Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, the former head of Syria’s so-called opposition National Coalition called Tuesday for direct talks with the Syrian government to try to end the country’s deadly turmoil.
Khatib said a deal could see Pesident Bashar al-Assad remain in power for a limited time, despite previous demands for his immediate resignation.Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib
“It is in the Syrian people’s interest for us to sit down together once and for all, and to find a way to save the people from this pain and suffering,” Khatib told AFP.
He was speaking after visiting Russia in early November as part of a small delegation of political and military opponents of the regime.
Khatib remains an influential figure in the foreign-backed opposition even though he resigned from his post as coalition chief in 2013.
Speaking to AFP by phone from Qatar, he said: “We want to solve the problem, because the problem now affects each and every Syrian… The regime is suffering, the opposition is suffering and the people are suffering.”
Khatib said he was ready to accept a solution to the war that would temporarily keep Assad in power.
“Of course (Assad) has to leave,” Khatib said. “But the idea that his mandate would finish on a given date, this idea could make sense.”
He said he believed Russia might eventually join calls for Assad to quit if steps were taken to prepare the ground for a handover.
Khatib’s talks in Moscow were followed by a visit last month by a high-level Syrian delegation led by Foreign Minister Walid Muallem who met President Vladimir Putin.