BEIRUT Dec 26 Syrian foreign ministry officials
headed to Moscow on Wednesday to discuss proposals for ending
Syria's 21-month-old crisis apparently made by international
envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Syrian and Lebanese sources said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad and another aide will
sound out Russian officials on the details of meetings with
Brahimi in Damascus this week, a Syrian security source said.
A Lebanese official close to President Bashar al-Assad's
government said Syrian officials were upbeat after talks with
the U.N.-Arab League envoy, who met Syrian Foreign Minister
Walid Moualem on Tuesday and Assad himself the day before.
"There is a new mood now and something good is happening,"
the official said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity
of the issue. "Of course now they (Syrian officials) want to
meet with their allies to discuss these new developments."
More than 44,000 Syrians have died in the revolt against
four decades of Assad family rule, a conflict that began with
peaceful protests but which has descended into civil war.
Brahimi is in Syria for a week of talks with government
officials and some dissidents, but has so far said nothing about
any new proposals or developments.
Earlier in December, he held tripartite meetings between
Russia, Syria's main arms supplier and an Assad ally, and the
United States, which has thrown its weight behind the
opposition. While both sides said they wanted a political
settlement, neither changed their stance on Assad.
Brahimi's previous proposal centred on a transitional
government which left open Assad's future role, something which
became a sticking point between the government, the opposition
and foreign powers backing different sides.
Opposition leaders have been wary of recent diplomatic
efforts, including those led by Brahimi.
Moaz Alkhatib, the head of the opposition's National
Coalition, argued against any deal that did not require Assad's
removal and said the group had repeatedly made this clear.
"We have told every official we have met: the government and
its president cannot stay on in power, with or without their
powers. This is unacceptable to Syrians," he wrote on his
Facebook page on Monday.
"The coalition leadership has told Lakhdar Brahimi directly
that this type of solution is rejected."