PARIS - Syrian President Bashar Assad has put forward names of five officials from his administration for internationally-sponsored peace talks with the Syrian opposition, European Union diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.
The list includes Prime Minister Wael al-Halki and more junior officials. According to a second EU diplomat, Syria's opposition has already rejected some of the officials on the list because of their lack of influence.
The EU sources said Assad in early March circulated a list of names for possible talks, including al Halki, Vice Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, Information Minister Omran Zoabi, National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar and Joseph Sweid, the minister charged with overseeing Red Crescent Affairs.
The source said Assad had since confirmed to Russia that these were the officials he wanted to send to negotiations which Moscow and Washington are trying to organize to end a conflict that has killed at least 80,000 people.
"The list is likely to change," the first diplomat said, adding that any official sent to the meeting had to have sufficient weight to properly negotiate.