December 16, 2016 / 12:22 PM / a year ago

Syria opposition coordinator says to join Putin's peace talks if genuine

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A senior Syrian opposition leader said on Friday his negotiations committee was willing to join peace talks planned by Russian President Vladimir Putin provided that the aim was to set up transition government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko

“If there is an intention for a true and genuine political solution to create a transition government with full executive power we are supporting that political solution,” Riyad Hijab told reporters in Copenhagen after meeting Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has consistently ruled out stepping down as part of a political solution to the war and this week he claimed a major military victory when his forces recaptured rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

Hijab, once a prime minister under Assad, said his committee, known as the High Negotiation Commission, was created to find and reach a political solution in Syria. It was committed to the peace talks sponsored by the United Nations, he said.

Putin said on Friday he was working closely with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to try to start a new series of Syrian peace talks aimed at securing a nationwide ceasefire.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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