Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime fired its deputy prime minister, Qadri Jamil, on Tuesday for acting without government permission when he traveled to Switzerland and met US officials last weekend.
"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," a statement posted on Syria TV said, according to Reuters.
Jamil met the former US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, on Saturday in Geneva, according to US and Middle Eastern officials.
The two discussed peace talks between Assad's government and the Syrian opposition that have been proposed for late November.
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"Jamil put forward what Ford apparently regarded as unworkable proposals regarding the Geneva talks. He also unsuccessfully tried to win US backing to including him on the opposition side in the Geneva talks," a Middle East official told Reuters.
Jamil belongs to a political party that opposes President Bashar al-Assad, but has been willing to work with him.
Meanwhile, the fractured Syrian opposition has differing stances on attending any potential peace talks, with the Syrian National Council saying it would not take part in the talks.
The broader umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, has until Nov. 9 to decide whether it will take part in the talks. A key sticking point is whether Assad stays or goes.
At least 19 Islamist groups fighting against Assad in Syria declared on Sunday that attending peace talks or negotiating with Assad would be "treason."