GLOBAL ECONOMY

Syrian president Assad says he will not negotiate with armed groups, calling them 'terrorists'

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, speaks during an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE, in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. Assad said in the interview that Saudi Arabia, the United States and some Western countries want "terrorist groups" to join peace negotiations to try end Syria's civil war. The Syrian government refers to all insurgent groups as terrorists. (SANA via AP)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, speaks during an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE, in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. Assad said in the interview that Saudi Arabia, the United States and some Western countries want "terrorist groups" to join peace negotiations to try end Syria's civil war. The Syrian government refers to all insurgent groups as terrorists. (SANA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks during an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE, in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. Assad said in the interview that Saudi Arabia, the United States and some Western countries want "terrorist groups" to join peace negotiations to try end Syria's civil war. The Syrian government refers to all insurgent groups as terrorists. (SANA via AP)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks during an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE, in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. Assad said in the interview that Saudi Arabia, the United States and some Western countries want "terrorist groups" to join peace negotiations to try end Syria's civil war. The Syrian government refers to all insurgent groups as terrorists. (SANA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, speaks during an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE, in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. Assad said in the interview that Saudi Arabia, the United States and some Western countries want "terrorist groups" to join peace negotiations to try end Syria's civil war. The Syrian government refers to all insurgent groups as terrorists. (SANA via AP)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, speaks during an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE, in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. Assad said in the interview that Saudi Arabia, the United States and some Western countries want "terrorist groups" to join peace negotiations to try end Syria's civil war. The Syrian government refers to all insurgent groups as terrorists. (SANA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

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."