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Thursday 28 August 2014

West urged to keep Syria distance

Published 20/09/2013 | 06:31

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A Syrian child looks out, during heavy fighting between troops loyal to President Bashar Assad and opposition fighters, in a village (AP)

President Bashar Assad's regime will not continue as it has done but the Western world must "get off our shoulders", Syria's deputy prime minister has said.

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Speaking on behalf of the government, Qadri Jamil told the Guardian that neither side was capable of defeating the other and a stalemate had been reached.

But he accepted that any ceasefire would have to be kept "under international observation".

"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," he said. "This zero balance of forces will not change for a while. Let nobody have any fear that the regime in its present form will continue. For all practical purposes the regime in its previous form has ended. In order to realise our progressive reforms we need the west and all those who are involved in Syria to get off our shoulders."

His comments came as Nick Clegg said Britain will look to press other countries at the United Nations next week to provide more money to ease the Syrian humanitarian crisis.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who leads the UK delegation to the UN's general assembly in New York, warned not enough cash is being sent to the region to help the millions of people displaced and "traumatised" by the conflict.

Asked what proposals his government would make at the forthcoming conference in Geneva, Mr Jamil said: "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."

Mr Jamil claimed the report by UN weapons inspectors into the use of chemical weapons in Damascus was "not thoroughly objective" and could not be sure it was perpetrated by Assad.

Mr Clegg was speaking after Oxfam suggested many large countries are contributing just a tiny fraction of their "fair share" of cash needed to deal with the consequences of the crisis.

The aid agency singled out governments which have been prominent in the diplomatic battle over Syria for failing to play their part in tackling the refugee crisis - including Russia and France. The UK is contributing around £400 million.

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