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Syrian opposition leader expresses readiness for talks with Assad regime


08:54, January 31, 2013

DAMASCUS, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The leader of Syria's main opposition coalition in exile, Moaz al-Khatib, said Wednesday that he is ready to hold talks with representatives of the Syrian administration in a bid to "curb the bloodshed of Syrians" and to prepare for a transitional period for the conflict-ravaged country.

Al-Khatib's surprising remarks were cited from his Facebook page, in which he said he is "prepared to sit down directly with representatives of the Syrian regime in Cairo, Tunis or Istanbul."

The 52-year-old opponent said he has come to this conclusion to help bring the crisis in the country to a close and after the Syrian administration's recent invitations to the opposition for dialogue.

"I have been informed from the media that the regime in Syria is inviting the opposition for dialogue... and since the Syrian citizen has been locked in unprecedented crisis, and as a sign of goodwill to find a political solution... I declare my readiness to sit directly with representatives of the regime," he said.

However, al-Khatib set out two conditions for embarking on talks, namely releasing as many as 160,000 detainees from the regime prisons and intelligence centers, and granting renewed passports to Syrians whose documents had expired abroad.

Yet, in another stark sign of the fragmented nature of the opposition, the Syrian National Council, the largest group in the coalition which is headed by al-Khatib, rejected the move saying it was against negotiating with a "criminal regime."

Even the coalition itself said that al-Khatib's remarks were personal and doesn't mirror the stance of the coalition.

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