MOSCOW, February 14 (RIA Novosti) - The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that reconciliation talks with rebel forces should be held “on the Syrian soil,” the SANA news agency reported on Thursday.
The statement came as a response to media reports that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, who is due to visit Moscow soon, may meet with an opposition delegation during his visit.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Muallem will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the visit.
“As far as rumors about minister Muallem’s meeting with opposition envoys in Moscow, Syria has repeatedly expressed its stance on the issue - Damascus is open for dialog with Syria’s domestic and external opposition on the Syrian soil,” the statement reads.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Wednesday that Al-Khatib, the leader of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SNCROF), will visit Moscow within the next two to three weeks and Moscow was ready to provide a venue for a meeting between Syrian government and opposition envoys.
SNCROF was formed on November 11, 2012 in Doha, Qatar, and proclaimed itself the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Its legitimacy has since been recognized by Western powers, but questioned by Moscow.
In December Al-Khatib rejected an invitation from Russia to discuss a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis. In an interview with Al Jazeera television he said he wanted an apology from Moscow for having supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.