Syrian opposition still eyes negotiated end to conflict
AFP, Thursday 27 Feb 2014

The Syrian opposition's interim prime minister said Thursday that it was still possible to negotiate an end to his country's bloody conflict despite the failure of UN-led peace talks.

Ahmed Tomeh was responding to reporters' questions in Berlin about his hopes for peace after the acrimonious breakdown of the "Geneva II" talks earlier this month.

"I nevertheless still believe in a negotiated solution and hope that the international community will exercise more pressure in future on the Syrian regime," he told reporters.

Tomeh and several other members of the Syrian opposition's provisional government met German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin Wednesday.

The Syrian opposition figure said Germany could contribute towards a solution of the nearly-three-year conflict, in which more than 140,000 people have been killed, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Tomeh also confirmed the arrest and detention of relatives of opposition delegates who attended the Geneva talks, after the US accused the Syrian government Wednesday of strong-arm tactics to intimidate opposition negotiators.

"Anyone in Syria who has anything to do with the opposition, even from afar, is in danger of being arrested, and not only that," Tomeh said through an interpreter.

Germany and the United Arab Emirates have created a fund with 50 million euros ($68 million) to help in the reconstruction of areas under the control of the moderate opposition.

Japan added a further 10 million euros to the fund Wednesday, the German foreign ministry said.