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Monday, 13 March 2017

‘Fighting extremism’ top priority, says Assad

A picture taken on March 9, 2017 in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo which was recaptured by government forces in December 2016, shows giant banners of President Bashar al-Assad outside the historic citadel on the outskirts of the old city. / AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID

Syria’s future will be decided only after “getting rid of extremists” and achieving political reconciliation, the country’s President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published Monday.

As the war that has ravaged his country approaches its seventh year, Assad told reporters it was “still early to talk about” his vision for Syria’s future.

“It’s a luxury now to talk about politics while you’re going to be killed maybe in a few minutes, you have terrorist attacks,” he told a group of Western journalists, state news agency SANA said.

“So this is the priority, getting rid of the extremists, the political reconciliation in the different areas, this is another priority,” he added.

“When you achieve these two, you can talk about every discussion you want to regarding any issue.”

SANA did not specify which outlets the Western journalists were from.

Assad’s comments come ahead of the six-year anniversary of Syria’s conflict, which began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

The conflict has since spiralled into a vicious and complex civil war that has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced more than half the population.

New peace talks brokered by Russia and Turkey are scheduled to start Tuesday in the Kazakh capital Astana, with UN-sponsored negotiations in Geneva set to resume on March 23.

Vía The Guardian Nigeria

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