Russia offers to mediate in Syria turmoil

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Putin with AssadEVEN as violence in Syria increased, Russia on Monday claimed that the Syrian authorities were prepared to hold talks in Moscow to end escalating violence.

The opposition, however, refused to commit itself to talks unless President Bashar al-Assad quit.

Russia had suggested to both Assad’s regime and the opposition that they should meet in Moscow for ‘informal contacts’ without any preconditions.

A foreign ministry official said that the Russian offer had been met with positive response by the Syrian authorities.

However, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council said that the opposition rejected all such talks with the Damascus regime until Assad stepped down.

Burhan Ghalioun was quoted as telling a news agency that the resignation of Assad is the condition for any negotiation.

The Russian foreign ministry had warned the Syrian opposition that Moscow was counting on its participation in the talks.

“We are expecting that the opposition will also give their assent in the next days and put the interests of the Syrian people before any other ideas,” it said.

Meanwhile, clashes between the opposition and regime forces have become even deadlier with 80 people killed across Syria on Sunday alone, according to activists.

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