Britain and America are willing to offer the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, safe passage – and even clemency – as part of a diplomatic push to convene a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva on political transition in Syria.
The initiative comes after David Cameron and Barack Obama received encouragement from Russia's President Vladimir Putin in separate bilateral talks at the G20 in Mexico.
A senior British official said: “Those of us who had bilaterals thought there was just enough out of those meetings to make it worth pursuing the objective of negotiating a transitional process in Syria.”
And a meeting is scheduled within this month (only a week or so left)
Participants would include representatives of the Syrian government, leading figures in the opposition, the five permanent members of the UN security council and key figures in the region, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Russia has been pressing for Iran to be able to attend.
The meeting, under Annan’s chairmanship, would be held by the end of the month with an objective of establishing a broader-based government leading to elections in 18 months time.
British officials said: “We do not think it makes sense to invite the Iranians for a number of reasons. We are under no illusions about this and are entirely realistic about the prospects of this happening. It may come off. It could capsize on whether Iran gets invited or not. But it is worth a try given the gravity of events there.”
Clemency here means - well, no or less or least punishment, roughly. Same route Yemen’s Saleh was offered and then accepted.
But - is it really possible to find who or what is going to replace Assad regime -
and how that would really substantially reduce or terminate the cycle of violence there?