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Syria Ready for Opposition Talks in Moscow

RIA Novosti

19:55 30/01/2012 MOSCOW, January 30 (RIA Novosti) - Syrian authorities have accepted Russia’s proposal to meet with the opposition in Moscow, but the opposition is yet to give its consent, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

“Our invitation has already received a positive response from the Syrian authorities. We expect that the opposition will give its answer in the next few days,” the ministry said in a statement.

Amar Al Kurbi, a Syrian human rights advocate, said representatives of the opposition to Syria abroad had received no formal invitation from Russia.

“Neither I nor my colleagues have received any invitation,” Kurbi said. He stressed that if such an invitation is extended and covers a dialogue with Syria on the resignation of the current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he will personally try to persuade his colleagues in the opposition to accept the Russian proposal. “Otherwise it would be a waste of time,” Kurbi said.

According to the opposition leader, the current violence taking place in Syria has changed attitudes and no one in the opposition now is prepared to agree to a dialogue on reforms or to meet “just to talk.”

“We are ready to talk only about peaceful regime change,” Kurbi added.

“We believe that the UN must act to support the people of Syria and that Russia can no longer explain blocking the UN and providing cover for the regime's brutal repression,” the Telegraph reported on Monday citing Downing Street.

Russia has been one of Assad’s staunchest supporters during the ten-month-long uprising against his regime. Moscow has proposed its own draft UN resolution on Syria, but Western members of the Security Council have criticized it as too soft.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said he will visit New York on Tuesday to persuade Security Council members to adopt a draft resolution on Syria. The draft, proposed by Morocco, echoes the Western-backed resolution on Syria vetoed by Russia and China last October.

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said on Saturday Moscow rejected the draft on the grounds that it cannot serve “a basis on which we can agree."

According to French Foreign Ministry’s official spokesman, Bernard Valero, Juppe will attend a ministerial meeting organized by the Arab League to bring together ministers from other Security Council members and Arab states.

"We should get this document adopted. The ministerial meeting may contribute to it,” Valero said.

The aim of the meeting is to discuss a report from the Arab League, whose observers have been working in Syria since late December.

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