Damascus – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed his optimism about peace talks planned for later this month, according to French lawmakers that visited Damascus on Sunday.
Assad said that he was willing to negotiate with all rebel factions fighting his government in Syria, excluding extremist groups.
“I am optimistic and ready for reconciliation with them on the condition that they lay down their arms,” Assad was quoted by French lawmaker Thierry Mariani, who spoke to AFP after visiting Damascus.
According to Mariani, Assad was “counting a lot on the new peace talks” expected to be convened later this month in the Kazakh capital Astana.
Assad also criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing him of jailing “more political prisoners than all the Arab countries put together”, according to Mariani.
The Syrian President further dismissed accusations of war crimes by his forces by saying that no wars were clean.
“There were probably mistakes on the part of the government to condemn and regret,” Assad told the delegation.
The French delegation, including three lawmakers, visited Aleppo earlier on Saturday, before heading to the capital Damascus and meet president Assad.
Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi
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