May 24 - The Syrian opposition mulls over a proposal to hold a U.S.-Russian conference on Syria, as Russia announces Damascus’ willingness to participate 'in principle'. Sarah Sheffer reports.
The Syrian government has agreed in principle to participate in an international peace conference brokered by Russia and the United States, aimed at stemming the bloody conflict there. This according to Russia's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN, ALEXANDER LUKASHEVICH, SAYING: "We are pleased to announce that Damascus has expressed its readiness in principle to participate in the international conference in order for Syrians themselves to find a political path to solve the conflict that is destroying both the country and the region." If it goes ahead, the conference would be held in Geneva in the next few weeks. But Syria's opposition questioned Assad's commitment. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MEMBER OF SYRIAN NATIONAL COALITION, LOUAY SAFI, SAYING: "We welcome that initiative, the attempt to have a political solution, this is something we aspire to. So we are very supportive of the initiative. Our fear is that the regime is not going to negotiate in good faith." The Syrian opposition in exile has been meeting in Istanbul to decide on whether or not they should attend the peace conference. Washington has pressured the coalition to resolve its internal divisions and to include more liberals who can act independently of Islamists.