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Assad losing opportunity by not responding to dialogue initiative: Syrian opposition

Damascus, Feb. 11 (Xinhua-ANI): Head of the main Syrian opposition coalition in exile, Moaz al-Khatib, said late Sunday the administration of President Bashar al-Assad is losing a “rare opportunity” by not responding to his recent calls for conditioned dialogue.

In a statement posted on his official Facebook page, al-Khatib said the administration gave a “very negative” message to the inside and outside by “skipping this rare opportunity whose aim was plain humanitarian.”

Last week, al-Khatib made a surprising statement by declaring his acceptance and readiness to sit with representatives of the Syrian government for dialogue with the condition of releasing 160, 000 detainees from jails. He also demanded that the negotiations be held with Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa as a representative of the government.

The Syrian government has yet to respond to the initiative, but analysts and some officials said the dialogue should not be pre- conditioned.

Meanwhile, al-Khatib said he made the calls for dialogue out of his “national and ethical obligations,” charging that the administration is still trying to buy time in a “futile dialogue.”

Also on Sunday, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad was quoted by the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV as saying that any dialogue to end the crisis should be held in Syria and headed by Syrians.

Miqdad stressed that the main principles for dialogue should be based on the “integrated political program” outlined recently by Assad. (Xinhua-ANI)