Syria opposition in Cairo to discuss Moscow talks
CAIRO - Syria's regime-tolerated domestic opposition and members of the main exiled group demanding the president's ouster met Thursday in Cairo to discuss Moscow's invitation to host talks with the Damascus government.
The exiled National Coalition and top opposition figure Moaz al-Khatib have already announced they will not attend the talks aimed at finding a political solution to Syria's nearly four-year war.
The internal opposition has said invited members are free to decide whether to attend the January 26-29 talks in the Russian capital.
"The purpose of the conference is to discuss attending the Moscow meeting and to unify the Syrian opposition's political views," said Mohamed Hijazi, an official with the domestic National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change.
The National Coalition was being informally represented at the three-day conference in Cairo by several of its members, including Ahmed Jarba, a former NC chief who is close to Saudi Arabia.
A Coalition source said its members were not attending as official representatives.
"The Coalition as a body was not invited, invitations were only issued to 20 individual members," the source said. "Five members are attending, but as individuals."
"The Coalition decided no one would attend as an official representative because the Coalition was not invited as a body. We don't know the agenda of this meeting and we don't know who else is attending."
Moscow's effort to host the peace talks comes after two UN-brokered meetings in Geneva last year between regime and opposition representatives that failed to produce results.
Russia is the most powerful backer of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.