Syrian opposition sets conditions for talks with Assad

By REUTERS
February 15, 2013 05:42

 
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AMMAN - The Syrian National Coalition opposition group is ready to negotiate a departure for President Bashar Assad with any member of his government who has not participated in the crackdown on the uprising, a high-level coalition member said on Friday.

Coalition president Moaz Alkhatib formulated the initiative in broad terms last month without consulting the coalition, catching the 70-member assembly by surprise. A powerful bloc in the coalition dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, the only organised group in the political opposition, criticized the initiative as harming the revolution.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem is due for talks in Moscow, one of Syria's main foreign allies, later this month.

The Russian government hopes Alkhatib will visit soon in search of a breakthrough for the nearly two-year-long conflict which the United Nations estimates has killed almost 70,000 people.

Formal backing by the coalition to Alkhatib's initiative would give it more weight internationally and undermine Assad supporters' argument that the opposition is too divided to be considered a serious player, opposition sources said.

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