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Talks possible only after rebels 'purged': Syria FM

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem says regime will negotiate with opposition after rebels are 'purged' from country

AFP , Sunday 26 Aug 2012
Syrian FM
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem speaks during a news conference in Damascus 19 December 2011. (Photo: Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri)
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Syria's regime will only look at negotiating with the opposition after "purging" rebels from the country, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Sunday, according to talks with a visiting Iranian official reported by Iran's IRNA news agency.

"The plan for negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition will begin after purging Syria of armed groups," Muallem was quoted as saying after meeting the chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy commission, Aladin Borujerdi, in Damascus.

"The condition for any political negotiation... is the halt to violence by armed groups and a declaration of opposition to foreign military intervention in Syria," Muallem said.

Borujerdi, whose government is Damasus's staunchest ally, was quoted by IRNA as saying: "We see Syria's security as our security. On this basis, we will stick by our Syrian brothers."

Borujerdi was also to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Vice President Faruq al-Shara, IRNA reported.

Speculation last week swirled over Shara's fate, after the Syrian opposition claimed he had tried to defect.

On Sunday, Shara made his first public appearance in more than a month in an apparent discrediting of that claim.

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