Arab League backs Syria opposition talks call

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Tuesday backed a call by the leader of Syria's main opposition group for talks with the Damascus regime aimed at ending nearly 23 months of bloodshed in the country.

Arabi also offered to play a role in any negotiations for a democratic transition in Syria, where tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

He expressed hope "the Syrian government would respond positively to the proposal" Khatib made last week, saying it would "take advantage of every opportunity to break the cycle of violence and to end the bloodshed".

Arabi appealed for a transition agreement for "real change that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people for freedom, democracy, social justice and human dignity".

The bloc was ready to "provide all the support... needed to facilitate the holding of dialogue and help the Syrians out of the tunnel of this crisis, and spare it and the region the dangers of its painful consequences," he added.

Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, head of opposition umbrella group the National Coalition, announced last week he was willing to hold talks with the Assad regime, subject to conditions including the release of 160,000 detainees.

Assad himself has yet to comment on the offer, but pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan said it came two years too late, in an editorial published on Tuesday.

And the Syrian National Council, the main component of the National Coalition, on Tuesday rejected the possibility of holding any talks with the Assad regime.