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Syria opposition to attend `Friends of Syria` conference in Rome

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 12:38

Zeenews Bureau

Rome: Syrian opposition group on Tuesday withdrew its decision to boycott the international talks in Rome after the UK and the US promised enhanced aid to Syrians.

The international talks being held in Rome is expected to shore up financial and political succor for strife-stricken Syria.

The umbrella group Syrian National Coalition had earlier decided not to participate in the talks because of the world silence over Syrian crisis.

SNC spokesperson Walid al-Bunni said that the decision was reversed after a phone call from US Secretary of State John Kerry to SNC head Moaz al-Khatib.

Al-Bunni told pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Arabiya the decision was made based on guarantees al-Khatib heard from western diplomats that the conference would be different this time.

Earlier, Syrian government said Monday it is prepared to hold talks with armed rebels bent on overthrowing President Bashar Assad.

he Syrian talks offer, made by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem during a visit to Moscow, came hours before residents of Damascus and state-run TV reported a huge explosion and a series of smaller blasts in the capital, followed by heavy gunfire.

State-run news agency SANA said there were multiple casualties from the explosion, which it said was a suicide car bombing. Britain-based activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the explosions targeted a checkpoint, adding there were initial reports of at least five regime forces killed and several wounded.

The talks proposal marked the first time that a high-ranking regime official has stated publicly that Damascus would be willing to meet with the armed opposition. But al-Moallem did not spell out whether rebels would first have to lay down their weapons before negotiations could begin — a crucial sticking point in the past.

The regime`s proposal is unlikely to lead to talks. The rebels battling the Syrian military have vowed to stop at nothing less than Assad`s downfall and are unlikely to agree to sit down with a leader they accuse of mass atrocities.

With Agency Inputs

First Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 09:49
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