DAMASCUS, April 15. /TASS/. The future of Syrian President Bashar Assad is not a subject of negotiations in Geneva or in any other city in the world, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi told Russian journalists on Friday.
"This issue is not under discussion either in Geneva or elsewhere in the world. Neither it is discussed with the Riyadh opposition group [the Supreme Negotiations Committee], nor with any other opposition group in any other corner of the world," he said.
"This issue should be decided by the Syrian people themselves in a democratic procedure. And they will never discuss it with anybody," Al-Zoubi said.
In the minister's words, the delegation of the Syrian government is taking to Geneva a reply to the unofficial document of 12 principles prepared by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.
"We in Syria are discussing de Mistura’s document with all seriousness," the minister said. "Our delegation goes to Geneva with the answer to the questions put by de Mistura," the he added.
At the same time, "under the rules of holding negotiations in Geneva we must not disclose our positions," the minister said. "De Mistura himself will speak about all comments to the document. They will be voiced during this round [of negotiations]," al-Zoubi said.
Direct talks between the Syrian government and Syrian opposition’s "Riyadh group", also known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), are ruled out at the moment, Syrian Information Minister went on to say.
"There will be no direct talks because the ‘Riyadh delegation’ currently does not reflect the will of Syrians but instead gives ground to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, and their main aim is to destroy the Syrian state," al-Zoubi said.