ISTANBUL - Syria's fractious opposition groups began reconciliation talks in Istanbul on Tuesday aimed at demonstrating they can provide a coherent and effective alternative to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The opposition forces have been invited by Turkey and Qatar, which holds the rotating chair of the Arab League, to talks in Istanbul to try to form a common front while their homeland is convulsed by a year-old uprising that Assad is trying to crush.
About 300 dissidents attended the welcome dinner at a seaside hotel in Pendik, a distant suburb on the Asian side of Istanbul, and more were expected to join what the Turkish hosts call an "open house" meeting on Tuesday.
Burhan Ghalioun, president of the main opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), has sought support for the meeting to end with a "national oath," committing all the opposition to building a democratic state, without any agenda for revenge, and to seek reconciliation once Assad is removed.
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