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Brahimi urges U.N. talks between Syrian opposition and regime

Published: Updated:

International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi called on Sunday for talks between the Syrian opposition and an “acceptable delegation” from the Damascus government on a political solution to the country’s 23-month-old civil war.

After talks at Arab League headquarters, Brahimi said negotiations could begin on United Nations premises, Reuters reported. He gave no specific location.

The peace initiative announced last week by Moaz Al-Khatib, leader of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, “has opened the door, and the Syrian government has said in truth that it confirms what it has been continuously saying, that it is ready for dialogue and for a peaceful solution.

“We believe that if a dialogue begins at the offices of the United Nations, at least at the start, between the opposition and an acceptable delegation from the Syrian government, we think this will be a start to get out of the dark tunnel.”

It was unclear whether he had received any new confirmation of Syria's willingness to enter into talks with Al-Khatib and the SNC.

Meanwhile, U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay said the international community was hesitating to take action on Syria, weighing up whether any military intervention would be worth it.

Urging that some sort of international action be taken against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Pillay repeated her call for him to be investigated for “crimes against humanity and war crimes”.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Saturday also called for urgent action to bring about a power transfer in Syria that excludes President Assad.

“Given the enormous price paid already by the Syrian people... it is more urgent than ever to act to overcome differences in favor of a political transition,” Le Drian told a security forum in the United Arab Emirates.

He said the change should be “a transition in which president Assad would no longer keep his place.”

Le Drian spoke of a “tragedy” and accused Assad and his family “of clinging to power by multiplying the daily massacres and atrocities.”

Syrian opposition on Friday refused to accept President Assad in any talks on ending Syria’s conflict, as part of a “framework” it has drawn up for a political solution.

China and Russia have blocked three resolutions at the U.N. Security Council that would have threatened sanctions against the Assad regime over its brutal crackdown on democracy protests that erupted in March 2011.