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Syria opposition to attend Rome summit

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib said Monday that the Syrian opposition will attend the Friends of Syria conference in Rome this week, after an earlier decision to boycott the meeting.

In a statement on his Facebook page Khatib said his group will go to Rome for Thursday's meeting after US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague "promised specific aid to alleviate the suffering of our people."

Their "complete rejection of the savagery carried out by the regime" of President Bashar al-Assad was another key factor in the decision by opposition leaders to attend the Rome talks, Khatib said.

He said he was determined to see "what possibilities and openings for support for the Syrian people can come out of this meeting."

The Rome talks, he said, "will be used as a practical way to reassess relations between the Syrian opposition and international parties".

The Coalition had announced on Saturday its intention to withdraw from the 11-nation meeting in Rome and to cancel planned visits to Washington and Moscow in protest at the "international silence" over "crimes committed against the Syrian people."

Earlier in Cairo the Coalition chief had said that opposition leaders would be meeting to decide if they should go to Rome after having received promises of support from key nations.

And in London on Monday, the new US secretary of state had urged the opposition to attend the Rome talks.

"I want our friends in the Syrian opposition council to know that we are not coming to Rome simply to talk. We are coming to Rome to make a decision on next steps," Kerry said after talks with Hague.

am/hkb

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130225/syria-opposition-attend-rome-summit