The Straits Times
Published on Dec 28, 2012

Russia urges Assad to talk to opposition


MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia, the only world power with ties to the Syrian regime, on Friday urged President Bashar al-Assad to talk to the opposition as Moscow itself put out feelers to the rebels.

The new pressure from Russia on the Assad regime came as Moscow revved up its bid to save a tattered peace process by first hosting a top government envoy and then planning for a meeting on Saturday with Syria peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

Russia also invited the head of the opposition National Coalition for its first public meeting with the group that was formed in November and is recognised by the West as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

The fast-paced diplomacy came against the backdrop of air raids by Syrian warplanes on a Damascus province from which the regime's forces had to withdraw the night before.