Reports from AFP
, BBC News
and News 24
state that Kofi Annan's planned meeting in Geneva on Saturday to discuss the formation of an interim government in Syria is already proving problematic before it even begins. The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has announced (after his country initially showed signs that it would support Annan's new plan) that Russia "will not support and cannot support any meddling from outside or any imposition of recipes. This also concerns the fate of the president of the country, Bashar al-Assad."
Annan had previously stated that the meeting would only convene if all the countries attending were in agreement and united around his plan. Annan is reportedly remaining "optimistic" and has stated the talks are "on course."
Due to American pressure Iran will not be invited to the conference due to its support of the Assad regime. Similarly due to Russian pressure Saudi Arabia will also not be invited due to its support of the rebels.
Assad however, has informed Iranian television that "no-one knows how to solve Syria's problems better than we do," and added that "the real issue is maintaining national unity in the country. We need to overcome the internal differences and disagreements," and stressed the situation in his country was an "internal" one "which has nothing to do with foreign countries."
These statements come as the Syrian army is continuing to shell the Damascus suburb of Douma and the country's third largest city, Homs, which is the center of the 16 month old uprising. Mr. Assad has consistently insisted these actions are to "annihilate terrorists", and also adds that by doing so it is possible that "the lives of tens, hundreds, or even thousands," will be saved.