sacks vice premier for meeting with US officials

In this file picture dated September 16, 2012, former Syrian vice premier for economic affairs Qadri Jamil speaks addresses reporters on a comprehensive opposition conference in the Syrian capital Damascus. (Photo: AFP – Louai Beshara)
Published Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday sacked his vice premier who had been absent without leave and held unauthorized meetings abroad, the official SANA news agency said.The move follows media reports that Qadri Jamil, a vice premier for economic affairs, had met with the US pointman for Syria, Ambassador Robert Ford, on Saturday in Geneva to discuss proposed peace talks.

SANA said Jamil was sacked after an “absence without authorization from his post” as well as “activities and meetings outside the country without authorization from the government.”

According to a political source in Syria, Jamil had proposed joining the opposition delegation to peace talks and that Ford had said he could not represent both sides at once.

Jami, a former member of the Syrian communist party, later founded his own party, the People’s Will, which participated in anti-government demonstrations in 2011 before the full-fledged war broke out.
As part of the tolerated domestic opposition, he helped draft a new constitution last year and then participated in legislative elections before being named vice premier.

The United States and Russia have been struggling to convince Syria’s warring parties to attend peace talks in Geneva next month aimed at ending the civil war, which has killed an estimated 115,000 people.

UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was in Damascus Tuesday as part of a regional tour to rally support for the talks following a rare US-Russian accord to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons.

The talks remain in doubt, however, with Syria’s increasingly fractured rebels having yet to say whether they will attend.

The National Coalition has said it will not take part in the Geneva talks unless Assad’s resignation is on the table – a demand rejected by Damascus – while several rebel groups have warned that anyone who attends will be considered a traitor.

Assad has also cast doubt on the talks, and has said he will not negotiate with any group tied to the rebels fighting his forces or to foreign states.

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