Syria vows to ease return of opposition
Agence France Presse - Sun, Jan 27th 2013 1:42 PM
DAMASCUS: Syria’s interior minister has vowed to ease the return of opposition members to the war-torn country for a dialogue with the regime, state news agency SANA reported.
“Executive orders will be issued to border crossings to facilitate and guarantee that all political opposition forces may enter the country, maintain residency and leave at will,” Mohammed Al-Shaar was quoted as saying on Saturday.
SANA said the directives, outlined at a meeting between Shaar and high-ranking ministry officials, aimed to ease the participation of opposition members in a national dialogue called by President Bashar Assad on January 6.
In a rare speech, Assad proposed a dialogue with opposition figures who were not “slaves of the West” and on condition that “terrorist attacks” came to a halt before any political transition.
The regime has branded activists and armed insurgents alike as terrorists.
Shaar pointed out that the new directive was not a blanket amnesty. “There is a big difference between those who safeguard their nation and those who are complicit in foreign agendas,” he said.
The United Nations says that more than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria’s uprising, which broke out in March 2011 with peaceful protests and morphed into an armed insurgency after a harsh regime crackdown.