ANKARA: Turkey has made a new proposal to Russia for an orderly peaceful transition in war-ravaged Syria in the post-regime era, a Turkish newspaper reported on Monday.
The proposal calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step down in the first three months of 2013 and for the transition process to be undertaken by the opposition National Coalition, which was recognised as the sole representative of Syrians by Arab and Western states last week, the Radikal newspaper reported.
The plan was discussed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on December 3 and Putin reportedly considered it a "creative formula," according to Radikal.
Turkey, once an ally of the Damascus regime, has become a fierce critic of the bloody crackdown on a rebellion that has turned into civil war.
For its part Russia has been one of Assad's few allies, routinely blocking resolutions against his regime at the UN Security Council.
While Erdogan and Putin agreed to disagree on Syria during their talks this month, Putin has said that Russia's leaders were not "inveterate defenders" of the current regime in Syria.
Ankara, which has been tightlipped on the new proposal, is seeking to deprive Assad of Russian and Iranian support, according to the Radikal newspaper.
The plan is likely to be turned down by Assad but it might change the course of the 21-month conflict due to the international community's support, Radikal said, noting that the United States, Egypt, Qatar, Russia and the United Nations have been debating the Ankara-led proposal over the past 10 days.
During a visit to Turkey on December 7, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said that he has "taken note" of the Istanbul summit where Putin and Erdogan discussed "new ideas" on how to respond to the Syrian crisis.
Ban told reporters in Ankara that he hoped that the new strategies would be very closely coordinated with UN peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, so that there would be a consensus of views among the international community.