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Syria sacks deputy PM for meeting US officials without permission

Concerned talks were related to holding a peace conference in Geneva.

Written by Associated Press | Damascus | Published: October 29, 2013 9:36:38 pm

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad sacked deputy prime minister for meeting US officials over the weekend for acting without permission,the official government news agency said on Tuesday.

Qadri Jamil held talks with US officials in Geneva over the weekend to discuss the possibility of holding a peace conference for Syria in that city,according to a UN official. No breakthroughs were reported to have come out of the talks. The UN official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

The state news agency SANA said a decree issued by President Bashar Assad relieved Jamil of his duties. His transgressions included “undertaking activities and meetings outside the homeland without coordination with the government,” ”bypassing” state institutions and absence from his workplace without permission.

Western powers and the UN have been pushing for Syria’s warring parties to meet at a conference in Geneva to try to negotiate a settlement to the three-year conflict.

Assad has said in principle that his government will attend talks,but it will not negotiate with the country’s disparate armed rebel groups.

Syria’s fractured opposition does not have a united stand on attending talks. A key sticking point is Assad’s future. Much of the opposition rejects any transition plan in which he or his close associates are involved.

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