DAMASCUS, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Moallem said Tuesday that subjects related to the status of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are "red lines" and can't be "touched," the state-run SANA news agency reported.
Al-Moallem made the remarks upon his arriving to Geneva, Switzerland Tuesday evening, heading a Syrian official delegation to participate in the Geneva II peace conference, which will open on Wednesday in Montreux.
The minister's remarks came apparently to make the Syrian government's stance clear ahead of the conference, hinting that the government's delegation to Geneva will not accept talks about Assad's departure.
The Syrian government repeatedly said that it wasn't going to Geneva to hand over the power, but to negotiate with the opposition to find a solution to the crisis.
It also said that the peace talks must focus on combating terrorism in Syria, while the opposition wants the conference to lead to the formation of a transitional government without any role for al-Assad.
Syria wants the Geneva II conference to be successful as a first step to launch a Syrian-Syrian dialogue on their territories, al-Moallem said in Geneva.
The goal of Geneva II is to achieve a political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the government and the opposition for the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted after the Geneva I conference in 2012.
The communique, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, lays out key steps to end the violence.