Syria opposition heads wants to talks to Assad's deputy

Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib on Monday called on President Bashar al-Assad to delegate his deputy Faruq al-Sharaa for a mooted dialogue between the warring parties.

"Since the start of the crisis, Mr Sharaa has seen that things are not going in the right direction," Khatib, who heads the main opposition National Coalition, told Al-Arabiya satellite television.

"The fact that he is part of the regime does not mean we will not accept talking to him. If the regime accepts the idea (of dialogue), I ask it to delegate Faruq al-Sharaa for us to hold discussions with him."

Earlier in the day Khatib urged Assad's regime to respond positively to his call for talks to end almost two years of violence which has left more than 60,000 people dead.

"The ball is now in the regime's court. They will either say yes or no," the opposition chief told pan-Arab channel Al-Jazeera.

In December Shara said in an interview with a pro-Syrian Lebanese newspaper that he favours a negotiated solution to the Syrian conflict rather than the president's strategy of crushing the rebellion militarily

Sharaa, the most prominent Sunni Muslim official in the Alawite minority dominated regime of Assad, said he is in favour of a compromise.

"No opposition can end the battle militarily, just as the security forces and army cannot achieve a decisive conclusion," he told Al-Akhbar newspaper, calling for a "historic settlement" between the warring parties and backed by key regional countries and UN Security Council member states.

Sharaa, 74, has served the regime for decades, both under Assad and under his father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad, but has been seen in public only a few times since the uprising erupted in March last year.