BBC News

Assad's advisor: 'Let the Syrian people decide future'

As world powers meet in Geneva to discuss possible Syria peace talks, the Syrian Presidential Advisor has rejected the opposition's demand that President Assad make it clear before the talks that he will step down during the transition.

Dr Bouthaina Shaaban told the BBC's Lyse Doucet that President Assad has said many times that the only way to deal with this issue is through elections or a referendum.

Speaking in Damascus, Dr Shaaban said the the main issue now was not about power. "Saving the country and the Syrian people is the utmost priority, power comes next," she said.

Dr Shaaban said these issues would be decided by the Syrian people alone. She said: "Whatever the Syrians agree to is fine but there should be no foreign or regional interference in the will of the Syrian people."