August 5, 2012 / 9:33 AM / 5 years ago

Syrian opposition open to talks with officials post-Assad

DUBAI (Reuters) - The leader of Syria’s main political opposition group said he was ready to negotiate with government officials whose hands are not “stained with blood”, once President Bashar al-Assad and his associates leave power, according to an interview published on Sunday.

Abdelbasset Seida, head of the Syrian National Council (SNC), also told the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the resignation of Syria peace envoy Kofi Annan may open the door for a new initiative to resolve the crisis.

“As far as we are concerned, the authorities have lost their credibility and legitimacy, and we have said this in Moscow bluntly: that dialogue with this regime is no longer possible,” Seida said.

“Bashar and his gang must leave and after that we will move to negotiate with other officials whose hands were not stained with Syrian blood and who were not involved in big corruption cases,” he added.

Annan quit as the U.N. and Arab League envoy on Syria last week due to frustration at the world body’s failure to act decisively to end 17 months of bloodshed in Syria.

On Friday, U.N. member states voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Syrian government for the violence at a special session of the General Assembly. Syria allies Russia and China opposed the non-binding resolution but were not able to use the veto they have used in the Security Council.

Seida welcomed Friday’s vote: “We believe that the vote at the United Nations General Assembly represents the start of a new initiative that may be coming in the near future.”

He did not elaborate.

Seida also voiced concern over the appearance of arms in Syria’s northern Kurdish areas, which have so far not seen any fighting between the Syrian army and the opposition.

His comments reflect growing concern in Turkey about the rising influence in northern Syria of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), a group linked to Kurdish separatists fighting Ankara.

“Of course, this armed presence, especially in the Kurdish areas, raises more than one question mark, because these areas had not witnessed any trouble or armed clashes,” Seida said.

Syrian Kurds see the uprising as a chance to attain the sort of freedoms enjoyed by their kin in neighboring northern Iraq.

Reporting By Mirna Sleiman; editing by Sami Aboudi and Jon Boyle

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