Last updated: 2 February, 2013

Syria opposition chief reiterates ready to talk with regime

Syria’s opposition chief said Friday the international community must not be a “bystander” to the “tragedy” of the Syrian people and reiterated his willingness to talk to the regime.

Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib joined UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi for late-nite panel talks at the Munich Security Conference, a day before both are due to meet US Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden will also meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the second day of the annual three-day gathering here of high-ranking officials, ministers, diplomats and top military brass.

“As a gesture of good will… we are ready to sit at the negotiating table with the regime but we don’t want their hands to be full of blood,” Khatib said calling for the release of detainees.

In a surprise move Wednesday, Khatib announced he was ready for dialogue with officials of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime subject to conditions, including that “160,000 detainees” are released.

But the opposition Syrian National Coalition said on Thursday that any talks on the country’s political future must be about the departure of the regime of Assad.

Asked what Khatib would ask of the US and other governments, he said, speaking through an interpreter, “everything you would provide us with to end the injustice is acceptable”, adding: “The Syrian people are living a tragedy right now.”

He called for “some kind of electronic interference” to prevent the aircraft of the regime shelling the Syrian people.

“If that doesn’t work I would demand to destroy the planes and weapons of the Syrian regime because it is just not acceptable for the international community to be a bystander just watching what’s happening to the Syrian people,” he said.

“We hate war, we do not advocate war… I am warning if this crisis persists it would have grave ramifications on the whole region,” he added.

Brahimi for his part called for a “clear decision” from the UN Security Council to set the agenda for a peaceful solution.