Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said Tuesday that the government would be willing to discuss President Bashar Assad's resignation but only after the opposition agreed to join in negotiating a peaceful settlement.
"As for his resignation, making his resignation a condition for dialogue effectively makes holding such a dialogue impossible," Jamil said. "During the negotiating process any issues can be discussed, and we are ready to discuss even this issue."
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Jamil denied that President Assad's brother Maher is in Russia or had previously been there. At a press conference in Moscow, he claimed that such reports were completely baseless.
Jamil also denied reports that a senior ranking Syrian official had died in Russia.
Commenting on US President Barack Obama's warning over Syria's chemical weapons, the deputy prime minister said it indicates the West is looking for a pretext for military intervention. He warned against any such intervention.
"Those who are contemplating this evidently want to see the crisis expand beyond Syria's borders," he told journalists in comments translated into Russian. The Syrian civil war, which began with a popular uprising in March 2011, already is spilling over into neighboring Lebanon.
Obama said Monday the US would reconsider its opposition to military involvement in Syria if President Assad's regime deployed or used chemical or biological weapons. The US president called a turn toward such weapons of mass destruction a "red line" for America.
Jamil described Obama's statements as "propagandistic threats" connected with the US presidential election. However, he also said they indicate that "the West is looking for a pretext to intervene militarily."
"We must say that such intervention is impossible," he added.
Russia, which along with China has steadfastly backed Syria and blocked UN sanctions on Assad's regime, earlier warned Syria against using such weapons.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeated Moscow's insistence that Syrians should decide their own fate without interference from outside.
Lavrov, who met with Jamil and Syrian National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haydar, said the ministers confirmed the Syrian government's commitment to a political transition under a UN-brokered peace plan.
Roi Kais contributed to this report
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