LONDON (AFP) – The Syrian government believes the civil war ravaging the country has reached a stalemate and would call for a ceasefire if long-stalled peace talks in Geneva were to take place, the deputy prime minister told Britain's Guardian on Thursday.
"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," Qadri Jamil told the newspaper.
When asked what his government would propose at the stalled Geneva-2 summit, he replied: "An end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process in a way that the Syrian people can enjoy self-determination without outside intervention and in a democratic way."
Jamil stressed that his comments represented the government's position.
The United States and Russia have been trying to bring together members of President Bashar al-Assad's government and rebel representatives for a Geneva conference following the failure of a first round of talks in June.
The rebels boycotted the initial summit and are refusing to attend Geneva-2 unless Assad resigns.
Jamil insisted that Assad was not about to quit, saying: "Let nobody have any fear that the regime in its present form will continue."
He called on the international community to "get off our shoulders" and allow the government to implement "progressive reforms."
The deputy prime minister also revealed that the war had so far cost the Syrian economy around $100 billion (74 billion euros).
Jamil, who is a member of a small secular party, was recruited to the government last year in order to break the Ba'ath party monopoly.