South Africa also noted the decision of the U.S. to arm Syrian rebels.
The South African government on Friday reiterated its rejection of any call for regime change in Syria and external military interference or any action not in line with the Charter of the United Nations, UN.
“We cannot agree with the precondition that negotiations are not possible until (Syrian) President Assad steps down,’’ the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, said in Pretoria in a briefing on international developments.
Mr. Ebrahim said South Africa has set an example in conflict settlement through dialogue.
“Even though the South Africa’s conflict stretched over a much longer period and the UN declared the apartheid system a crime against humanity, representatives of the regime were not excluded from the negotiations that led to a democratic settlement in South Africa,” he said.
Referring to the just concluded G8 meeting in Northern Ireland, Ebrahim said his government was disappointed that the meeting failed to agree on all aspects pertaining to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria.
“There was, however, agreement on the need for the Geneva meeting. As South Africa we are concerned that any delay in the proposed negotiations in Geneva will have severe consequences for the prospects of achieving peace in Syria,’’ Mr. Ebrahim said.
He said the South African government “cannot agree with the position taken by some sectors of the opposition who are refusing to negotiate by using President al-Assad as an excuse’’.
Negotiations should commence without preconditions, Mr. Ebrahim said.
“South Africa reaffirms that it is essential that a political path be supported by a united, cohesive international effort towards a Syrian-led negotiated political transition aimed at establishing a democratic pluralistic society in which minorities are protected,” he said.
Mr. Ebrahim reaffirmed his government’s opposition to military solution to the conflict in Syria.
“The only hope for the Syrian people lies in the willingness of all the parties to the conflict to immediately put an end to the violence and start engaging each other constructively with the aim of reaching an agreement on a political transition based on the Geneva Communiqué of June 2012,’’ he said.
He also said South Africa remains concerned about the continuing militarization of the conflict in Syria and notes, with concern, the decision by the U. S. to arm the Syrian Free Army.