Brahimi calls for Syria-Syrian talks in neutral venue

Crisis deepens

CAIRO - UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Sunday urged international backing for a Syrian opposition offer to begin talks with the regime, which he proposed be held in United Nations offices.
Brahimi said opposition leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib's offer to negotiate with some regime figures "opened the door and challenged the Syrian regime to confirm what it constantly says about being prepared to hold dialogue."
The envoy spoke at a news conference in Cairo after meeting Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.
"Parties in Syria, the Arab region and the international community must deal with this initiative for it to succeed," he said.
He added that holding talks "in one of the United Nations' headquarters between the opposition and an acceptable Syrian government delegation would be a start to exiting the dark tunnel."
Khatib said in late January he was prepared to hold talks with members of President Bashar Al-Assad's regime who did not "blood on their hands" and demanded to negotiate with Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa.
Khatib is expected to visit Assad's backers in Moscow in the coming weeks, as is Assad's foreign minister Walid Muallem, though the two will not meet, according to Syrian state television.