July 20, 2012 - 18:41 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Russian ambassador to France said on Friday he believed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had accepted he would have to leave power although only in an orderly fashion, but the Syrian government swiftly denied this, Reuters said.
Ambassador Alexandre Orlov told French RFI radio that Assad, embattled by a rebellion against his rule, signaled readiness to step down when he accepted a recent international declaration which foresaw a transition towards a more democratic Syria.
"At the Geneva conference, there was a final communique that foresees a transition towards a more democratic system," Orlov said. "This final communique was accepted by Assad. Assad nominated his representative to lead the negotiations with the opposition for this transition. That means he accepted to leave, but in an orderly way."
The Syrian Information Ministry quickly denied this, saying Orlov's remarks were "completely devoid of truth".
A spokesman for the Russian embassy in France later said Orlov's words were "taken out of context" and that he had no "exclusive information about Assad's readiness to step down", the Interfax news agency reported.
"The meaning of the ambassador's remarks was that Assad could leave power or stay in his post, but this decision must be taken not by the (U.N.) Security Council or anyone else, but only by the president himself and the Syrian people," Interfax quoted embassy spokesman Sergei Barinov as saying.
Barinov said Orlov meant that Assad's acceptance of the Geneva declaration "in principle could mean that he does not rule out the possibility of ceding power in a civilized manner".
Orlov had earlier told RFI his personal opinion was that Assad would not be able to remain in power. "I think it will be difficult for him to stay after everything that has happened. But essentially, he has accepted that he will have to leave."
Moscow has also argued that Assad is ready to comply with demands he delegate authority by naming a representative to conduct a political dialogue with the opposition.