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Syria 'ready to discuss' Assad's resignation, deputy PM says

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Qadri Jamil, Syria's deputy prime minister for economic affairs, listens during a news conference in Moscow, Aug. 21, 2012.

Syria is ready to discuss the resignation of President Bashar Assad through negotiations with the opposition, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said Tuesday in Moscow, according to AFP.

"The resignation (of Assad) as a condition to be fulfilled before the start of a dialogue means it will be impossible to start the dialogue. Any issue can be discussed during the dialogue," Jamil said, according to Reuters.

"We are ready to discuss even that issue (the resignation of Assad). But resignation before finding the mechanisms acceptable for Syrian people - is that a real democracy?" Jamil added.

The deputy prime minister was in Russia to meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials.

On Monday, President Barack Obama said he would have to rethink his current opposition to U.S. military engagement in Syria if the regime there were to use or move its chemical and biological weapons.

Obama draws 'red line' for Syria on chemical and biological weapons

"We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized," the president said. "That would change my calculus. That would change my equation."

At the news conference in Moscow, Jamil appeared to dismiss Obama's comments.

"Everything points at the fact that other countries have these (chemical) weapons. And this makes us remember the Iraqi mass destruction weapons story. After Iraq was captured, it was discovered that there are no weapons of mass destruction there. The West is looking for an excuse for direct intervention. If this excuse does not work, it will look for another excuse," he said, according to Reuters.

"Regarding Obama's threats, they are media threats to be used in the media campaign in readiness for the coming elections. There are different games played at the moment in the United States which are connected with the upcoming elections," Jamil said, according to Reuters.

The deputy prime minister added that a military intervention in Syria was "impossible" because it would lead to a confrontation beyond the country's borders.

"Direct military intervention in Syria is impossible because whoever thinks about it apparently is heading towards a confrontation wider than Syria's borders," Jamil added.

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Syria regime 'reeling, armed to the teeth' with chemical weapons

The United Nations says more than 18,000 people have been killed in the 17-month old conflict that is affecting neighboring states.

Russia and China have opposed military intervention in Syria throughout the revolt, and Russia warned the West on Tuesday against unilateral action on Syria.

Speaking after meeting China's top diplomat, Lavrov said Moscow and Beijing were committed to "the need to strictly adhere to the norms of international law ... and not to allow their violation," according to Reuters.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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