The Straits Times
Published on Feb 05, 2013

Syrian opposition chief says offers Assad peaceful exit


BEIRUT (REUTERS) - Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib urged Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's government on Monday to start talks for its departure from power and save the country from greater ruin after almost two years of bloodshed.

Seeking to step up pressure on Mr Assad to respond to his offer of talks - which dismayed some in his own opposition coalition, Alkhatib said he would be ready to meet the president's deputy.

"I ask the regime to send Farouq al-Shara - if it accepts the idea - and we can sit with him," he said, referring to Syria's vice- president who has implicitly distanced himself from Mr Assad's crackdown on mass unrest that became an armed revolt.

Speaking after meeting senior Russian, United States (US) and Iranian officials, Mr Alkhatib said none of them had an answer to the 22-month-old crisis and Syrians must solve it themselves.