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Iran's Salehi thinks Syrian govt ready to talk to opposition -MENA

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 6 Feb 2013 20:56 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds context and quotes)

CAIRO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - The foreign minister of Iran said on Wednesday he thought the Syrian government was ready to negotiate with the opposition and that the two sides would have to sit together for talks, the Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.

"I think that the Syrian government is ready to negotiate with the opposition," Ali Akbar Salehi told MENA.

Opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib has made a conditional offer to talk to Syria's rulers about trying to end the conflict.

Shi'ite Iran is President Bashar al-Assad's main backer in the region, and has been at loggerheads with mostly Sunni-led Arab states that have called for Assad to step down.

The presidents of Iran, Turkey and Egypt held a three-way meeting on the sidelines of an Islamic summit in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

"There was a three-way summit of Egypt, Turkey and Iran about the crisis and we look forward to it leading to the resolution of this crisis. We are optimistic," Salehi said.

He said Iran had welcomed Alkhatib's remarks. "In the end, the government and the opposition must sit together to negotiate," he said. (Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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