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UN Envoy Calls on Opposing Syrian Factions to Hold Talks

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Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations envoy to Syria, called on the government of President Bashar al-Assad to meet opposition leaders for talks to end the conflict.

Brahimi said Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib’s invitation for talks with the Syrian regime “opened a door” for solving the Syrian crisis, MENA cited Brahimi as saying during a press conference in Cairo today. Brahimi called on all sides of the conflict in Syria, as well as the international and regional communities, to respond.

More than 60,000 people have died in the conflict that started in March 2011, according to the UN, as forces loyal to Assad fight rebels who are seeking an end to his family’s rule. Electricity rationing has worsened as the fighting disrupts supplies and prevents repairs to damaged infrastructure, while fuel is also in short supply.

Assad’s government signaled last week that it’s ready to meet with the Syrian National Coalition led by al-Moaz. The opposition leader has requested talks focusing on finding a way for the president to leave power and halt the violence.

Ali Haidar, Syria’s minister for national reconciliation, said he is willing to meet al-Khatib, the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper reported on Feb. 11. Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said the government would hold talks if the opposition abandons weapons and sets no pre-conditions.

Brahimi said if negotiations can begin on UN premises, that “will be a beginning for getting Syria out of this dark tunnel,” MENA reported.

To contact the reporters on this story: Glen Carey in Riyadh at; Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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