Opposition "would talk to Assad in northern Syria"

Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:05pm EST
 

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib said on Sunday he was willing to hold peace talks with President Bashar al-Assad's representatives in rebel-held areas of northern Syria.

The aim of the talks would be to find a way for Assad to leave power with the "minimum of bloodshed and destruction", Alkhatib said in a statement published on his Facebook page.

Alkhatib, a moderate cleric from Damascus, made his offer as opposition activists reported fighting had moved closer to central Damascus, following a rebel push into the east of the capital last week.

"If the regime is so concerned about sovereignty and does not want to venture out of Syrian territories, then there is a suitable solution, which is the liberated land in northern Syria," Alkhatib said.

"There is an important question. Will the regime agree to leave with the minimum of blood and destruction?"

Alkhatib last month offered to hold talks with Assad's ceremonial deputy Farouq al-Shara about an exit for Assad if the authorities started releasing tens of thousands of political prisoners jailed since the eruption of the 22-month uprising.

The United Nations said on Friday that it saw a glimmer of hope in Alkhatib's offer of talks.

U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said the offer was "the most promising thing we've heard on Syria recently".   Continued...

 
Activist preacher Mouaz al-Khatib speaks the General Assembly of the Syrian National Council in Doha November 11, 2012. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous