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Syria opposition offers its conditions for peace talks

By Agencies in Beirut, Lebanon and Damascus, Syria | China Daily | Updated: 2013-11-12 07:28

Syria's main opposition group said on Monday it was willing to attend peace talks on the condition that President Bashar al-Assad transfer power and is excluded from any transition process.

In a statement issued after two days of meetings in Istanbul, the key National Coalition said it would take part in mooted peace talks in Geneva "on the basis of the full transfer of power".

It also stipulated "that Assad and those with the blood of Syrians on their hands have no role in the transitional phase and Syria's future".

Speaking shortly afterward, US Secretary of State John Kerry said any decision by the opposition to take part in talks would be a "big step".

Syrian opposition figures have long said that Assad should have no role in any political transition process, insisting he must step down.

But the Syrian government, while expressing willingness to attend the proposed Geneva conference, insists that Assad's departure from power is not up for discussion.

"A consensus has been reached among the coalition members about the need to take part in the Geneva II conference," the Syrian National Coalition said in the statement.

The coalition also required a guarantee that any political conferences should lead to a political transition in Syria, according to the statement.

The opposition had been divided on whether to attend the meeting and the conditions to go to Geneva, leaving the date of the Geneva II conference up in the air.

Earlier the coalition on Sunday said that it would not attend peace talks in Geneva unless it received the backing of the rebels on the ground.

The Arab League has called on the Syrian opposition to attend the Geneva II conference and form their delegation as soon as possible.


 Syria opposition offers its conditions for peace talks

Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to fire what they said is a locally made weapon toward forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa on Sunday. Nour Fourat / Reuters

(China Daily 11/12/2013 page11)

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