Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said that counterterrorism should top the international conference on Syria, Geneva II, scheduled to be held in Switzerland next month.
Mikdad told the AFP news agency that “Syria is fully prepared to participate in the conference and we will announce the names of the delegation soon."
He emphasized that at the conclusion of the dialogue, “we want to go to the polls to say who will lead the country.”
“President Bashar Assad enjoys the support of the vast majority of Syrians, as opposed to French President Francois Hollande who does not enjoy but the support of more than 15 percent of the French people," he said.
"No one can prevent President Assad from standing for a new presidential term in the year 2014," Mikdad said.
Mikdad met with an Australian delegation comprising of activists from the "Hands Off Syria" movement and academic, media and political figures on Saturday, headed by Professor Tim Anderson.
He stressed the Syrian government's keenness on making the Geneva II conference a success and to reach a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
''The counter-terrorism agreement in this regard will be a priority,'' Mikdad said.
The delegation met with Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi, who said Western countries and Arab regimes backing terrorists will pay a heavy price for their support to terrorist groups who are shedding the blood of the Syrians.
Halqi pointed to the importance of such visits to convey the reality of what the Syrian people have been facing, and said he hoped the delegation will convey the true image as they experienced it first-hand to the public opinion.
He stressed that the Syrian economy has proved its resilience during the war that has targeted all sectors and in spite of systematic sabotage of infrastructure, schools, universities and factories that have all failed to break the will of the Syrian people.
Anderson voiced solidarity with the Syrian people against aggression by terrorists and the misleading propaganda campaign led by some political circles around the world.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer