Syria’s main opposition group says it’s willing to share membership of a transitional governing body with current members of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, but not with Assad himself.
UN mediator Staffan de Mistura has said that the political transition would be the main focus of the current round of peace talks in Geneva, which aim to end Syria’s five-year war.
“There are many people on the other side who we can really deal with,” Salim al-Muslet, the spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee, told Reuters in Geneva on Thursday.
“We will have no veto, as long as they don’t send us criminals, as long as they don’t send us people involved in the killing of Syrians.”
A United Nations resolution governing the talks says a transitional governing body would have full executive powers, and Muslet said the body would call for a national conference which would in turn form a constitutional committee.
The HNC was willing to take less than half of the seats on the transitional body, as long as it satisfied Syrians and brought a political solution, he said.
“Even if we only take 25 percent, believe me, 100 percent would be the Syrian people.”
If Syria’s ally Russia was willing to put pressure on the Syrian government, and if the government delegation was serious about negotiation, then a deal could be done in the current round of talks, he said.
The HNC has always insisted that there can be no place for Assad in a transitional governing body, but Muslet said there was room for negotiation on how to handle Assad’s departure.
“For a solution, to really help Syria to get relief, then let them suggest what they want for Assad and we discuss it. There is a table here in the United Nations building and we can sit and discuss all these things, we are ready to discuss these things.”
Al Jazeera’s Reza Sayah, monitoring the talks in Geneva, described the remarks as “a very diplomatic and conciliatory” statement that puts pressure on the Syrian government negotiators on the eve on their scheduled arrival in Geneva.
“The ball now perhaps is in the court of the Syrian government negotiators,” our correspondent said.
A day earlier, however, Syria’s deputy foreign minister rejected the opposition demand for a transitional ruling body with full powers, instead favouring a unity government.
“This will not happen – not now, nor tomorrow nor ever,” Faisal Mekdad told The Associated Press in response to the opposition’s calls for Assad’s departure.
“President Bashar Assad has become a guarantor for the existence of Syria, and for the unity of Syria’s territory and people.”