Syria Willing to Participate in Russia-sponsored Peace Talks

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The Syrian government said Saturday that it would be willing to participate in a Russia-sponsored conference to end its almost four-year-long civil war, state media said.

The Syrian state news agency, SANA, said there had been “ongoing discussions” to plan a meeting that would be a prelude to a peace conference in Moscow. It also vowed to continue to combat terrorism “over every part of Syrian soil.”

The Syrian government regards the rebellion against its rule as terrorism, and routinely uses that term when discussing the anti-government forces. Russia has been a staunch ally of the government of President Bashar Assad, and is deeply distrusted by his foes, limiting the odds of success of any such conference.

“The Syrian Arab Republic confirms that it was and still is ready to discuss with whoever believes in the unity of Syria … in what serves the will of the Syrian people and fulfills their aspirations in achieving security and stability and to end the bloodshed,” SANA said.

The statement also supported local truces, cease-fires that have been used in parts of Syria to end clashes between pro-government forces and rebel fighters while granting some measure of amnesty to opposition members. Critics, however, dismiss the truces as little more than capitulations forced upon residents facing dire humanitarian circumstances as a result of crippling sieges by the Syrian army.

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SOURCE: LA Times
Nabih Bulos