Syrian Opposition Slams Regime’s Rejection Of Peace Talks

 @AmruthaGayathri on February 11 2013 7:27 AM
Moaz Al Khatib
Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Al Khatib speaks to the media on Feb. 11, 2013 REUTERS

Syrian opposition leader Moaz Al-Khatib said Monday that the regime’s rejection of his negotiation proposition, which was accompanied by an offer for President Bashar Al-Assad’s peaceful exit, sent a “very negative” message to the world.

Syrian Information Minister Omran Al-Zohbi said Friday the government was prepared to hold talks with the opposition, but without preconditions.

"The door is open, the negotiating table is there, welcome to any Syrian who wants to have dialogue with us," he said on state television.

"We are serious about the question of dialogue. [But] When you speak of dialogue, it means dialogue without conditions, which excludes no-one."

In a statement on his Facebook page, Khatib, the newly-elected head of the Syrian National Coalition, said the regime had "lost a chance to engage in a dialogue" to end the two-year conflict.

Softening an absolute refusal to engage in negotiations with the government, the Syrian opposition expressed willingness late last month to hold talks with a government envoy.

On Feb. 4, Khatib asked the regime to send Vice-President Farouq Al-Sharaa as the government representative for negotiations adding that the opposition was softening its stance in the interest of the Syrian people and to help the regime stand down and leave peacefully.

Khatib met with the foreign ministers of Assad’s allies, Russia and Iran for the first time Feb. 2.

Assad, in early January, said there would be no dialogue with people he called traitors or "puppets made by the West."

"The first stage of a political solution would require that regional powers stop funding and arming (the opposition), an end to terrorist operations and controlling the borders. We will not have dialogue with a puppet made by the West,” he had said.

According to a U.N. report released Jan. 2, more than 60,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the 22-month conflict, while more than 600,000 Syrians are believed to have fled into neighboring countries to escape the violence.

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