Domestic Syria opposition rejects Assad offer
Syria's tolerated opposition has rejected an offer to enter into talks with the government of President Bashar al-Assad to find a solution to end the 21-month conflict, Aljazeera reported.
The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB) made the announcement on Monday even as Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi said his cabinet would meet soon to draw up a mechanism for the peace roadmap announced by Assad.
On Sunday, Assad outlined in his first speech in months his vision to end the conflict that the UN says has killed 60,000 people.
The president called for an end to the violence and dialogue with opposition figures he deemed acceptable to chart a future course.
"We will not take part in a national dialogue before violence stops," the head of the opposition group, Hassan Abdel Azim, told a news conference in Damascus, setting the first of several conditions for talks with the regime.
He also demanded that any dialogue be preceded by the release of prisoners, a guarantee to ensure humanitarian aid is delivered to areas hit by the violence and the publication of a statement on the fate of missing Syrians.
"Any negotiation - not just a national dialogue - must be held under the aegis of the UN-Arab League envoy," he said.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that Assad's rejection of the most important elements in an international roadmap to end the country's civil war means Assad has no real plan to end Syrians' "terrible suffering".
"The secretary-general was disappointed that the speech ... does not contribute to a solution that could end the terrible suffering of the Syrian people," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.
Ban and UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will continue to work for a political transition that leads to UN-organised elections, he said.
The roadmap calls for a political transition and the establishment of a transitional governing body.