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Lavrov says pre-conditions on Assad departure ‘unacceptable’

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Russia said today that following the carnage in Paris it was now clear that global powers should unite without any preconditions on the fate of Syria’s embattled leader Bashar al-Assad.

“It seems to me there are no longer any doubts that it is simply unacceptable to put forward any pre-conditions for joining forces in the fight against terror,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting his counterpart from Lebanon Gebran Bassil in Moscow.

After the Paris massacre that claimed the lives of at least 129 people last Friday, French President Francois Hollande has called for the creation of a broad anti-IS coalition and will discuss the proposal with both US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

Lavrov expressed hope that other Western powers would follow suit and would be more open to cooperating with Moscow in Syria.

“I hope that the change in position of our Western colleagues — which unfortunately came at the cost of the terrible terror attacks — will be seen on the part of our other Western partners,” Russia’s top diplomat said.

To help “mobilise a genuinely global coalition,” the UN Security Council should put together a firm “legal basis” that would enable global powers to fight the Islamic State group together, Lavrov said without providing further details.

He also denied that an agreement on the fate of Assad had been reached at the latest round of talks in Vienna last week.

Putin has been seeking to capitalise on shifting dynamics in the West following Friday’s terror attacks in Paris and the bombing of a Russian passenger plane over Sinai in October, reiterating his call for Russia and the West to unite against a common enemy.

On Tuesday, Russia admitted that the Airbus A321 carrying 224 people, most of them Russian holidaymakers, was knocked out of sky by a bomb, pledging vengeance and stepping up its Syria strikes.