Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Syrian opposition leader extends talks offer to Assad regime

The Syrian National Coalition leader yesterday nailed down details of his offer of talks, first proposed last month. The UN called the offer 'the most promising thing we've heard on Syria recently.'

By Khaled Yacoub OweisReuters / February 11, 2013

Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib speaks to the media after meeting with Arab League head Nabil al-Arabi in Cairo February 11, 2013.

Asmaa Waguih/REUTERS

Enlarge

Amman, Jordan

Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib said yesterday he was willing to hold talks with President Bashar al-Assad's representatives in rebel-held areas of northern Syria to try to end a conflict that has killed about 60,000 people.

Skip to next paragraph

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

Sources in the coalition, an umbrella group of opposition political forces, said that Alkhatib, a moderate cleric from Damascus, met international Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in Cairo yesterday.

Mr. Brahimi played a main role in organizing meetings between Alkhatib and the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran, Assad's main supporters, in Munich last week.

The sources said that in their talks yesterday the two men addressed the question of whether the coalition would formally endorse Alkhatib's peace initiative.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which controls a large bloc within the Islamist-dominated coalition, is against the initiative.

But the Brotherhood, the only organized political force in the opposition, is unlikely to challenge Alkhatib's authority directly, with his initiative gaining popularity in Syria, the sources said.

The Syrian authorities have not responded directly to Alkhatib's initiative – formulated in broad terms last month. But Information Minister Amran al-Zubi on Friday repeated the government's line that the opposition was welcome to come to Damascus to discuss Syria's future in line with Assad's proposals for a national dialogue.

Alkhatib has headed the Syrian National Coalition since it was founded last December in Qatar with Western and Gulf backing. He has quietly built a student following and links with civic and religious figures across Syria.

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Editors' picks

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!