Egypt invites Syrian opposition to unite in Cairo
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr has called on all Syrian opposition groups to gather for a conference in Cairo under the auspices of the Arab League to unite their efforts in resolving the current political crisis in Syria, RIA Novosti reported.
Amr said on Monday that only the united opposition could be a viable alternative to the current regime of President Bashar al-Assad or at least an equal partner in the future coalition government in the country.
The minister also criticized the idea of arming the Syrian rebels as the move could ignite a full-scale civil war in the country.
"Arming the Syrian opposition, as Egypt sees it, will increase the rate of killings and will transform the situation in Syria as a whole to a full civil war," Amr said.
His remarks came a day after a grouping of some 70 Western and Arab countries, dubbed "Friends of Syria", met in Istanbul to pledge their support of opposition forces fighting against troops loyal to Assad.
More than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the breakout of a popular uprising against Assad in March 2011, the UN has estimated. The Syrian authorities blame the unrest on "armed terrorist gangs" affiliated with al-Qaeda.
UN envoy Kofi Annan told a closed session of the UN Security Council on Monday that Syrian authorities had agreed to an April 10 deadline to begin implementing the so-called six-point peace plan.
The plan calls for an immediate ceasefire by both government troops and opposition fighters, provision of humanitarian aid to those in need and launch of a broad Syrian dialogue without foreign intervention.