MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) – Dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition forces could begin within the next several months, Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, leader of the People’s Will party, said in Moscow on Tuesday.
Representatives of Syrian opposition parties arrived in Russia on Tuesday to discuss the situation in their country, which has been torn apart by an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that began in March 2011.
The delegation includes Jamil and National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar, leader of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
Jamil said the delegation had met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with whom it discussed ways out of the crisis and confirmed that dialogue between the opposing sides in the Syria conflict is the only way out of the current situation.
“Whereas in the past, this idea was theoretical, now it can be put into practice and become reality,” Jamil said.
The forces that used to be against dialogue, both in and outside Syria, are slowly accepting that it is the only option, he said.
“That is great progress. We are currently discussing details of negotiations: which opposition groups will participate, what the agenda will be, and how all of it can be done quickly,” Jamil said.
Haidar said previously in an interview with Voice of Russia radio that the delegation had brought concrete proposals to Moscow for the resolution of the Syria crisis.
Earlier in the day, President Assad declared an amnesty for an unspecified number of criminals for crimes committed before April 16, 2013, the Syrian state news agency SANA reported. The same presidential decree replaced the death penalty with a life sentence of hard labor.
About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the uprising against Assad in March 2011, according to UN estimates.
(Changes headline, recasts lead, adds Jamil quotes)