DAMASCUS, Syria – Syrian President Bashar Assad says his government will not negotiate with armed groups, calling them "terrorists."
Assad's comments were published Friday by Syria's state media, a day after a conference in Saudi Arabia that sought to form a unified opposition front ahead of proposed talks on ending Syria's nearly five-year conflict.
Saudi Arabia has been a key backer of Sunni opposition blocs pushing for Assad's ouster, such as the hard-line Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham groups that were at the talks.
Assad told Spanish news agency EFE that Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and some Western countries "want terrorist groups to join the negotiations table."
He said they want his government to "negotiate with terrorists and this is a matter that I believe no one will accept."