US President Barack Obama said on Thursday Syria’s civil war would not end unless President Bashar al-Assad leaves power, discounting suggestions the middle eastern leader could take part in future elections.
“I do not foresee a situation in which we can end the civil war in Syria while Assad remains in power,” Obama said, days after meeting Assad’s top backer -- Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila, Obama said Russia and Iran must decide whether they want to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad or “save the Syrian state” by finding a Syrian government that can be legitimate.
He said Assad “cannot regain legitimacy” and the goal of recent diplomatic efforts was to create space that could eventually lead to a “pivot” and political transition.
The US President also said a hoped-for ceasefire might not be observed by all parties but would create “pockets of calm”.
Obama’s comments come amid US hopes that Russia may be warming to the idea of a future Syria that doesn’t include Assad.
At the same venue, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country will continue to remain a strong member of the campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.