U.S. offers Syria crisis settlement plan to Russia - newspaper

A U.S.-proposed plan to settle the Syrian conflict calls on Moscow to persuade President Bashar al-Assad to step down voluntarily, Russia's Kommersant newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The opposition and supporters of the Assad-regime ought to form a transitional government involving representatives of all faiths and groups of influence as soon as possible, according to Washington's plan, which was presented by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at their meetings in Phnom Penh and Dublin.

The existence of such an entity would help prevent clashes along religious lines and would minimize the risk of pro-government forces using chemical weapons and the possibility of such weapons falling into the hands of uncontrolled forces, the document says.

This plan will be feasible if Bashar al-Assad is not present in the transitional government, the U.S. plan says, according to Kommersant.

Russia supports the idea of forming a transitional government in Syria, the newspaper says.

Such a step is permitted by the Geneva communique, on the implementation of which Russia has been insisting for months, Kommersant said. But Russia has no intention of trying to persuade al-Assad to quit his post, it said.

Firstly, Russia is certain that al-Assad will never agree to step down voluntarily, especially as he himself has reiterated it more than once, Kommersant said.

Secondly, Moscow thinks that countries posing a threat to al-Assad, for example the U.S., should try to persuade him to resign, it said.

"All decisions to reform the political system of Syria should be made by Syrians themselves without any foreign intervention and attempts to impose ready-made recipes on them," Kommersant quoted Russian Foreign Ministry officials as saying.

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