Britain and America were on Thursday reported to be working on a plan to offer clemency to the beleaguered Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, as part of a U.N.-sponsored diplomatic initiative to facilitate political transition in Syria.

British officials were quoted as saying that the initiative was prompted by signs that Russia, which had until now been opposed to a regime change in Syria, was willing to relent.

Russian stand

According to media reports, British Premier David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama received “encouragement” from Russian President Vladimir Putin to explore peaceful political transition when they met him at the G20 summit in Mexico. British and American officials claimed they were “convinced” that Mr. Putin was no longer “wedded” to Mr. Assad remaining in power indefinitely, though this is disputed in Moscow.

“On the basis of these discussions, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, will now seek to persuade the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, to change the format of his plans to construct a contact group on Syria, and instead host a conference using the transition on Yemen as the model,” The Guardian reported.

It said the conference, chaired by Mr. Annan, was expected to be held by the end of the month with “an objective of establishing a broader-based government leading to elections in 18 months time”.

Participants would include representatives of the Syrian government, leading opposition figures, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and key players in the region such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Moscow wants Iran to be involved in any such initiative but London and Washington are opposed to the idea.

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