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Syrian lawmaker rejects opposition's preconditions for dialogue with regime

Last modified: 5 Feb 2013 17:19

A prominent lawmaker from Syria's ruling party on Tuesday rejected preconditions for dialogue set by the opposition chief to help end nearly two years of bloodshed.

Fayez Sayegh told The Associated Press news agency that dialogue between the Syrian government and its political opponents in the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition should start without preconditions.

Opposition chief Mouaz al-Khatib said on Monday he is extending his hand "to facilitate the peaceful departure" of the regime to save the country from destruction after 22 months of civil war and called on President Bashar Assad to begin releasing tens of thousands of political prisoners as a first step.

Sayegh said that the numbers of opposition supporters in Syrian custody cited by Khatib were exaggerated, adding that he felt the opposition aims to embarrass the regime by setting preconditions.

"What is important is for Syrians to meet and agree on common ground for talks," Sayegh said, adding that al-Khatib's proposals such as the prisoners' release should come "as a result of a dialogue, not before it begins".