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Intra-Syrian opposition agrees to talks in Moscow without preliminary conditions - NCC

December 27, 2014, 22:05 UTC+3 BEIRUT
NCC leaders do not come forward with a condition of Bashar al Assad’s stepping down for launching a dialogue
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BEIRUT, December 26. /TASS/. Intra-Syrian opposition groups have agreed to enter into talks with a governmental delegation in Moscow “without any preliminary conditions,” the Syria Alaan news agency cited the official representative of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change Mounzer Khaddam as saying in Damascus.

NCC leaders do not come forward with a condition of Bashar al Assad’s stepping down for launching a dialogue.

“We realise very well that a non-violent regime change cannot be done in the wink of an eye,” Khaddam said. “The process needs time, taking into regard the difficulty of the current situation in Syria.”

Khaddam recalled that leader of the National Coordination Body Hassan Abdul Azim “has never believed in a possibility of the violent regime overthrow and since the very beginning has been calling for a political settlement.”

The NNC as the main body of the internal opposition still views the Geneva Communiquй of June 30, 2012 as “a platform for talks,” Khaddam said.

While commenting on a position of the foreign group - the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces /NCORF/ - that is hesitant about joining the Moscow meeting, Khaddam said the NCC “calls for all units of opposition to gather in Moscow.”

“However, we won’t link our participation with NCORF representatives’ presence in Moscow,” he said.

Earlier, an official source at the country’s foreign ministry confirmed that Syria’s authorities are ready “to participate in consultations in Moscow with all those who defends the country’s sovereignty, its unity and an independent decision.”

The diplomat underscored that “the meeting that is meant as preparatory for a conference on the dialogue reflects the Syrians’ aspirations to peacefully resolve the crisis and to stop the bloodshed and to restore security and stability in the whole country.”

In early December Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian presidential special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, said in Beirut that Russia could “provide the Moscow floor for the contacts among Syrians.”

“We call these contacts consultative and preparatory, having in mind that the sides will not set forth any preliminary conditions and there will not be an earlier agreed agenda,” he said.

The Russian diplomat pointed out that first Moscow may host various groups of the opposition that act inside the country or outside it.

“Next, representatives of the Syrian government could come for the second stage [of the consultations] and later, an agreement on more concrete formats, for instance a conference, may be achieved,” Bogdanov said.

Earlier, the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Lukashevich said a meeting of representatives of Syria’s government and opposition could be held in late January.

It “is planned as informal and so no official invitations are expected to be sent.” Also, participation of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura could not be ruled out, he said.

The Syrian daily Al-Watan said that preliminary consultations among the opposition representatives are expected to take place in Moscow on January 22-23, 2015, while the first round of consultations with members of the governmental delegation will be held on January 24.

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