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Britain’s Johnson Suggests Rethink Of Demand That Syria’s Assad Step Down

Britain's top diplomat says the West may have to rethink its long-standing demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down as part of any peace deal ending Syria's civil war.

"We were wedded for a long time to the mantra that Assad must go. We haven't at any stage been able to make that happen," Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told lawmakers in London on January 26.

"I see downsides and I see risks in us going in, doing a complete flip-flop, supporting the Russians, Assad. But I must also be realistic about the way the landscape has changed and it may be that we will have to think afresh about how to handle this," he said.

Johnson suggested that Assad be allowed to run in elections supervised by the United Nations, in a deal to end the conflict.

Such a scenario appears close to the position taken by Russia and Iran, that Assad be allowed to run in elections during a political transition in Syria under a UN-sponsored peace deal.

His comments also echo Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek's call last week for a more "realistic" stance on Assad in light of the strongman's recapture of Syria's largest city, Aleppo, last month.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.


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