US, allies exploring prospects for Assad exile

By REUTERS
February 2, 2012 06:28

 
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WASHINGTON - The United States, European governments and Arab states have begun discussing the possibility of exile for Bashar Assad despite skepticism the defiant Syrian president is ready to consider such an offer, Western officials said on Wednesday.

While talks have not progressed far and there is no real sense that Assad's fall is imminent, one official said as many as three countries were willing to take him as a way to bring an end to Syria's bloody 10-month-old crisis.

Two sources said no European states were prepared to give Assad sanctuary, but one official said the United Arab Emirates might be among those open to the idea.

Talk of exile has surfaced amid mounting international pressure on Assad and a diplomatic showdown over a proposed Arab League resolution at the United Nations aimed at getting him to transfer power. He has responded by stepping up assaults on opposition strongholds.

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