DAMASCUS (AFP) – The Syrian government will not hand over power at talks on a peaceful solution to the country's conflict in Geneva, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Monday.
"We will head to Geneva not to hand over power to the other side... We will go to Geneva in order to set up a real partnership and a broad national unity government," Muallem told a press conference in Damascus.
The foreign minister said he advised anyone with "illusions" that the government would hand over power "not to go to Geneva."
The Syrian government has said it will attend the mooted conference, being proposed by the United States and Russia, despite their support for opposing sides of the Syrian conflict.
But prospects for the conference appear dim, and it has already been delayed, with an original June date now pushed back until at least July.
The opposition has said that any solution to the conflict must involve the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, something the regime has repeatedly ruled out.
And the opposition insists it will not attend the conference unless certain conditions are met -- including the withdrawal of regime-allied fighters from the Shiite Lebanese group Hezbollah from Syria.