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China Daily Website

Hope of peace in Syria

Updated: 2013-02-08 07:40
( China Daily)

The chances of a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis have increased after the country's main opposition leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib made a surprise offer of talks to the government last week. It is now up to the international community to seize the opportunity and step up diplomatic efforts to hold negotiations between the two sides in Syria to restore peace in the country as early as possible.

On Feb 5, al-Khatib reiterated that he was ready for talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government provided it released 160,000 detainees. This is a comedown in the opposition's stance because in the past, it had demanded nothing less than Assad's resignation as a precondition for talks.

Two factors may have prompted the opposition to change its stance: the setbacks it has suffered recently against government troops amid dwindling military support from foreign countries, and the circumspection with which the West now sees the faction-ridden and extremist-infiltrated opposition.

Nevertheless, the change in the opposition's stance has rekindled hopes of an end to the bloodshed in the Middle East country, where violence has continued for almost two years.

Earlier this month, the United Nations warned the world of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria. According to UN estimates, 60,000 people have died in the conflict and more than 700,000 have fled to neighboring countries as refugees. Should the situation worsen further, about 4 million Syrians would need humanitarian aid this year.

Last month, NATO's deployment of Patriot missiles along the Turkey-Syria border and an Israeli air strike inside Syria further complicated the Syrian crisis. The world knows that Syria is at a critical juncture and pushing for an early political resolution to the crisis remains an urgent task.

While it is essential that a united Syrian opposition seek talks, it is equally important that the international community honor the principles and objectives set forth in the Geneva Communiqu, issued by the Action Group for Syria in June 2012, to resolve the crisis. A resolution that has the support of the majority of Syrians will achieve solid results.

Relevant parties in Syria need to take a pragmatic approach, respect the wishes of the Syrian people and enter the political transition process with flexibility to end the mayhem and bloodshed that have turned life in the country into a living nightmare.

(China Daily 02/08/2013 page8)