Syria says it's ready for talks with armed rebels

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Syria says it’s ready for talks with armed rebels

MOSCOW — Syria is ready to hold talks with the armed opposition trying to topple President Bashar Assad, the country’s foreign minister said today, in the government’s most advanced offer yet to try to resolve the 2-year-old civil war through negotiations.

Walid al-Moallem did not say whether rebel fighters would first have to lay down their arms before negotiations could begin, a sticking point in the past. The proposal marked the first time that a high-ranking Syrian official has stated publicly that the government would meet with opposition fighters.

One rebel commander welcomed the idea of talks, but only on the condition that Assad and those who are responsible for the bloodshed are put on trial.

Russia, a close ally of Assad and his regime’s chief international advocate, offered last Wednesday, in concert with the Arab League, to broker talks between the rebels and the government.

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