'Force' al Assad out

MUNICH - Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says if the Syrian political process fails, President Bashar al-Assad will have to be removed "by force."

"I believe Bashar al-Assad is weak and I believe Bashar al-Assad is finished," Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview in Munich, Germany.

Saudi Arabia is prepared to contribute ground troops to the fight in Syria, but only as part of a U.S.-led coalition, he said.

"Bashar al-Assad will leave — have no doubt about it. He will either leave by a political process or he will be removed by force."

"We will push as much as we can to ensure that the political process works. But if it doesn't work, it will be because of the obstinance of the Syrian regime and that of its allies."

"And should that prove to be the case, then it becomes clear that there is no option to remove Bashar al-Assad except by force."

The political process has been in doubt, especially of late. U.N.-brokered talks were put on ice almost as soon as they started this month.

Hopes were buoyed here in Munich after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced an agreement that would, in theory, lead to a pause of sieges to allow humanitarian aid delivery, and an eventually de-escalation of hostilities.

Jubeir called the deal "very important."

But U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told Amanpour the time for celebration had not yet arrived.

Only after the deal is implemented, Eliasson said, will the U.N. be able to think about restarting peace talks. He emphasized that, though he was hopeful about the deal's prospects, it was not yet a breakthrough, and he needed to see progress within a week to believe in the deal's robustness.

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