Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says ''everything'' is up for negotiation at proposed peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. But he also promises that the army will recapture the whole of Syria and questions who will represent the opposition. Lucy Fielder reports.
[UPSOT] (ENGLISH) SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD We are ready to negotiate everything... Bashar al-Assad promising everything will be on the table at proposed Syria peace talks, including his own presidency. With a caveat though: Assad saying only Syrians can determine his fate at the ballot box, though his opponents want him out under any peace deal. Speaking to French journalists, the Syrian leader questioned who'd represent the other side. SOT ASSAD Is it going to be a real Syrian opposition, and when I say real, I mean one that has grassroots in Syria, not a Saudi one, or a French one or a British one, it should be a Syrian opposition to discuss Syrian issues. So the viability or success of that conference depends on that point. Assad clearly feeling himself to be in a strong position. Three weeks ago, his army dealt the rebels their biggest blow in nearly six years of war by driving them from Aleppo. Assad defending that bloody, drawn-out battle by saying it had liberated civilians from what he called terrorists. No date has been set yet for the peace talks, which Russia, Iran and Turkey proposed last month. But Kazakhstan is the proposed venue. A truce brokered by Russia and Turkey as a first step looking shaky on Monday as both sides accuse the other of violations. Assad vowed his army would recapture all of Syria, including the rebel-held Wadi Barada area: a water supply to nearby Damascus that has been bombed out of service and is the focus of the latest fighting. Despite the talk about talks, it looks as though the military solution remains on the table.