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Assad offered immunity if he gives up power now

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Girls pose for photos as others sleep at a temporary shelter at Houla, near Homs yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Girls pose for photos as others sleep at a temporary shelter at Houla, near Homs yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Girls pose for photos as others sleep at a temporary shelter at Houla, near Homs yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Bashar Al-Assad would be offered safe passage to Switzerland to take part in peace talks, under plans being drawn up by Britain and America to end the crisis in Syria.

British officials believe that it is now "worth having a go" at attempting to negotiate a "transitional process" for Syria that would involve the president relinquishing power.

The idea was discussed by David Cameron and Barack Obama at the G20 summit in Mexico this week.

The process of attempting to negotiate a solution to the crisis could lead to Mr Assad being offered immunity. A well-placed British government source admitted that the scenario was "very optimistic".

It follows a meeting between Mr Obama and Vladimir Putin at the G20 during which the Russian president was said to have shifted his view of the Syrian leader.

"Putin indicated that they were not hooked on Assad staying in power indefinitely," said the British source.

"Of course they go on to say that it's not up to the international community to decide.

"But those of us who had bilaterals with Putin thought there was just enough out of these meetings to make it worth pursuing the objective of negotiating some sort of transitional process in Syria."

Asked whether this may involve Mr Assad being offered immunity, the official replied: "It is hard to see a negotiated solution in which one of the participants agrees voluntarily to go to the International Criminal Court."

Western officials are now hoping to organise a summit in Switzerland in "the next few weeks" attended by Mr Assad or other members of the regime, representatives of the opposition, members of the UN Security Council and "regional players" such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent