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Assad, Iran-backed foreign forces must quit Syria: Saudi FM

Russia and Iran must agree on a date by which Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad should quit the country, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview with Sky News Arabia on Saturday.

He also said that they need to agree to withdraw all foreign forces from the war-torn country.

Arch regional competitors Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose rivalry has been aggravated by their support for opposing sides in Syria, both took part in talks to find a peaceful solution for the country for the first time in Vienna on Friday.

Jubeir said in the interview the Vienna talks, which will resume within two weeks, would show how serious Assad and his backers Iran and Russia were in seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis.

“Our two points where we differ from them are on a date and means for Assad’s departure, and the second point is on a date and means for the withdrawal of foreign forces, especially Iranian ones. These are the two basic points without which there can be no solution,” he said.

Assad and Iran accuse Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies of being behind terrorism in Syria through their backing of rebel groups. Those countries say they only arm and finance secular or moderate Islamist rebel groups.

Bashar_al_Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

 

Saudi Arabia has characterized Assad’s use of air power and artillery in Syrian cities as genocidal and has described the presence of Iranian military forces and Shi’ite Muslim Iraqi and Lebanese militia in Syria as a foreign occupation.

 

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