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Syrian regime to talk to opposition on 10 July

Assad's regime calls on opposition members and intellectuals for democratic transition talks on 10 July

AFP , Monday 27 Jun 2011
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has called members of the opposition and intellectuals for July 10 talks on the wave of protest sweeping the country, the official SANA news agency reported Monday.

"The mechanism put in place recently for the national dialogue will invite the authorities, intellectuals and political personalities to a July 10 meeting to debate in particular amendments to the Constitution, especially Clause 8," it said.

Removing Clause 8, which stipulates the ruling Baath party is the leader of both the Syrian state and society, is one of the demands of the opposition movement.

"Draft laws on a multi-party system, the press and those governing parliamentary and local elections will also be on the agenda," SANA said.

It said the mechanism for national dialogue, presided over by Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa, aimed to "lay down the principles of a dialogue" between all parties in Syria ahead of a national congress.

On June 20, Assad acknowledged in a televised speech that Syria had reached a "turning point," but said dialogue could lead to a new constitution and end Baath party dominance.

"We can say that national dialogue is the slogan of the next stage," Assad said. "The national dialogue could lead to amendments of the constitution or to a new constitution."

Reform was "a total commitment in the interest of the nation," he added in his third speech to the nation since the protests began in mid-March.

Monday's move came after more than 100 dissidents heard calls for a peaceful transition to democracy at a public meeting in the capital that they said was unprecedented in five decades of iron-fisted Baath rule.

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