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Former VP of Syria calls for new approach; supports Saudi peace initiative

A U.S. Marine artillery unit in Syria. (Sgt. Matthew Callahan/US Marine Corps)

The existing peace process to resolve the Syrian conflict is neither inclusive nor democratic, and only brings together the regime and the overwhelmingly Islamist opposition, said former Vice President Dr. Rifaat Assad.

Addressing the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, he called for a new, all-inclusive peace conference under the auspices of the UN, US, EU, Russia, China and the Saudi-led coalition.

Participants must genuinely believe in democracy and equality for all citizens under the rule of law, based on universal values enshrined in the UN Charter, regardless of religion, ethnicity, sect or gender, he said. Such criteria would automatically exclude all Islamist groups, he added.

Assad said in the coming weeks, he will work with world powers and partners to create an international coalition to organize such a conference in New York City from Sept. 24-28, parallel to the UN General Assembly.

The main goal is to have a formal UN declaration to end the conflict and start the process of bringing genuine, representative democracy to Syria, he added.

The UN should not just promote a cease-fire or find an accommodation between regional and global powers, but also keep Syria united, he said.

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© 2018 the Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.