Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara opened a conference in Damascus Sunday aiming to start a "national dialogue" with the opposition, whose leading members boycotted the event, Bloomberg reported.
Faruq told the conference that he hoped that Sunday's meeting would mark the "start of national dialogue" which will make Syria a more "pluralistic and democratic country."
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Many opposition figures rejected Syrian President Bashar Assad's call for dialogue as
insufficient, saying authorities could exploit them while mass killing
and arrests continue, adding that the time is not right for talks.
According to Syrian magazine Syria Today, delegates at the meeting included independent MPs, and members of the ruling Ba'ath party that has been in power since 1963.
At the end of June, Assad announced its intention to invite the
country's leading intellectuals to talks, promising reform while
simultaneously continuing the violent crackdown on anti-government
protests across Syria.
Demonstrations have been staged across the country for nearly four months, with protesters demanding that Assad step down and allow free democratic elections.
Assad has refused to step down, and has often sent security forces to violently quell protests, arresting dissidents and shooting live fire into crowds.