Kremlin: Up to Syrians to Discuss Assad’s Fate

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hand with Syria President Bashar Assad in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Russia’s involvement in Syria has led to resumed talks about Syria’s future in Vienna. So far there’s no progress but at least there are talks, notable for including Iran, at Russia’s insistence, for the first time. They are notable as well for easing the Kremlin’s isolation after its takeover of Crimea and backing for pro-Moscow forces fighting the central government in Ukraine. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin (R.), shakes hand with Syria President Bashar Assad in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday it was up to the Syrian people to discuss the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, commenting on a Syrian opposition statement issued after two days of talks in Riyadh.

The conference in Saudi Arabia of political activists and rebel groups agreed on Thursday to set up a joint body to prepare for proposed peace talks with Assad’s government but insisted that he leave office.

“The fate of Assad should be discussed by Syrians themselves, not Russia,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

“Now efforts are focused on drawing up the lists of who to recognize as terrorist organizations, who to consider moderate opposition, which can and should be part of the political settlement… Disagreements among certain countries exist. Positions are getting closer,” he said.