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Middle East

Syria opposition presses Assad over dialogue

National Coalition leader urges President Assad to take a clear stance on his initiative for dialogue.
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2013 15:09
Al-Khatib said his initiative was 'humanitarian' in order to end the conflict the UN says has killed more than 60,000 people [AFP]

Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib has urged President Bashar al-Assad to take a clear stance on his initiative for dialogue, adding that it was aimed at ending the bloodshed and to "help the regime leave peacefully".

Al-Khatib, speaking to Al Jazeera after meeting Russian and US officials in Germany, said major powers had no vision for a solution to the war in Syria and only Syrians could decide on a way forward.

"The regime must take a clear stand [on dialogue] and we say we will extend our hand for the interest of people and to help the regime leave peacefully," he said.

"The ball is now in the regime's court. They will either say yes or no,"

Last week al-Khatib said he was ready to hold talks with Assad's representatives if the government released around 160,000 detainees and renew passports for Syrians stranded outside the country. But his call was met with criticism from within his own coalition, which refuses dialogue with Assad and says he must leave.

'Humanitarian' initiative

Al-Khatib, leader of the National Coalition, a bloc of exiled opposition groups, said his initiative was "humanitarian" in order to save Syrian lives and what remains of the country's infrastructure after nearly two years of conflict.

"The big powers have no vision [for a solution] ... Only the Syrian people can decide on the solution."

He also said that forming a transitional government with full powers was one of the options under discussion after the
meeting in Munich. He did not elaborate.

"We will find a solution, there are many keys. If the regime wants to solve [the crisis] it can take part in it," he said.

"If it wants to get out and get the people out of this crisis we will all work together for the interest of the people and the
departure of the regime."

Al-Khatib's comments came as Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran would continue talks with the Syrian opposition following a preliminary meeting at the weekend.

"We had 45 [minutes] to an hour discussion which was very fruitful... and we committed ourselves to continue this discussion," Salehi told a foreign-policy think-tank in Berlin.

Al-Khatib also held a meeting in Munich on Sunday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who while expressing an interest in "maintaining regular contact" with the opposition, also said the dissidents' insistence on Assad going was "the main reason for the continuation of the Syrian tragedy."

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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