Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discharged Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil from his post on Tuesday for leaving the country and reportedly meeting with U.S. officials in Switzerland without government permission, state media reported.
Jamil had reportedly met with U.S. envoy for Syria Robert Ford on Saturday to discuss proposed Geneva peace talks.
“Jamil was dismissed because he left his center of work without prior permission and did not follow up on his duties … Additionally, he undertook activities outside the nation without coordinating with the government,” said a statement posted on Syria TV.
“He saw Ford after meeting Russian officials in Moscow. The meeting was long but useless,” a Middle East official told Reuters, asking not to be named.
“Jamil put forward what Ford apparently regarded as unworkable proposals regarding the Geneva talks. He also unsuccessfully tried to win U.S. backing to including him on the opposition side in the Geneva talks,” he said.
President Bashar al-Assad considers Jamil as part of what he calls “patriotic opposition,” the political parties that oppose the regime but have not joined the armed uprising against Assad.
Peaceful anti-government protests that began in Syrian in May 2011 developed months later into an armed conflict in which more than 100,000 people were reportedly killed.
The United States and Russia are seeking to bring together the Syrian regime and the opposition into the negotiation table in Geneva in an attempt to reach a political resolution. While the Syrian regime has expressed willingness to take part in the talks, the opposition has said it would only participate if Assad’s removal is guaranteed.