The Syrian government is ready to attend UN peace talks in Geneva aimed at bringing the conflict in the country to an end, said Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Thursday. "Syria is ready to participate in the Syrian-Syrian dialogue in Geneva without any foreign interference," he said during a press conference in China.
Muallem was in the country to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Last week the UN security council unanimously approved a resolution mapping an end to the conflict in Syria. The agreement calls for a ceasefire and sets out a timetable for talks between the regime and opposition to take place in Geneva, starting in January 2016.
The resolution does not deal with which rebel groups will be represented and which will be branded as 'terrorists', an issue which is likely to divide major powers within the Security Council, it also does not directly tackle Bashar al-Assad's future as president. Muallem said that Assad's regime is "ready as soon as we receive a list of the opposition delegation".
The resolution and talks have no effect on air strikes against Daesh (IS) conducted by Russia and the US-led coalition.
The resolution also calls for "free and fair elections" to be held within the next 18 months. "We should stick to the peaceful resolution of Syrian issue, the people of Syria should decide the future and fate of Syria, and the UN plays a key role in negotiations," said Muallem.
"This government will compose a constitutional committee to look for a new constitution with a new law of election so the parliamentary election will be held within the period of 18 months, more or less."
When Wang Yi was asked about whether Assad should stay in power, he replied "China's position is very clear. We believe Syria's future, its national system, including its leadership, should be decided and set by the people of Syria."
At least 250,000 people have died in the conflict since it began in 2011.