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AFP

Damascus pushing on with Assad's talks offer

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi

Syria's information minister on Tuesday renewed a call for opposition figures to enter into a dialogue for peace offered by President Bashar al-Assad, despite domestic and rebel-linked groups already rejecting the proposal.

The invitation was "to all opposition forces to join a dialogue based on respect for national sovereignty and a rejection of foreign intervention of all kinds," Omran al-Zohbi said, according to the state news agency SANA.

But he then qualified that by saying the government would be contacting "all political forces and personalities that are patriotic" to take part.

The comments repeated an offer made by Assad on Sunday, in a rare speech, to hold discussions with Syria's opposition to end the conflict—but only with elements he deemed acceptable, not rebel-affiliated groups he termed "killers" and "terrorists" led by foreigners.

The main, internationally recognized opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition based out of Cairo, immediately dismissed Assad's offer, sticking to its pre-condition that the president step down before any talks could be considered.

On Monday, the tolerated domestic opposition group, the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, also snubbed the proposal.

Western nations called Assad's speech outlining a plan to restore peace to Syria while defiantly making no compromises as detached from reality and essentially empty.

Zohbi said the Damascus government was working on mechanisms to develop the president's plan and would contact "all political forces and personalities that are patriotic" to prepare for a conference of national dialogue.

The conference would address all aspects of Syria's 21-month conflict, SANA quoted him as saying, including "terrorism and the presence of terrorist elements" as well as the economy, human rights and the situation of detainees.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi calls on oppositionists to join talks with the regime. (AFP)

The invitation was to all opposition forces to join a dialogue based on respect for national sovereignty.