The Syrian opposition and members of President Bashar Assad's regime are reportedly holding meetings in Beirut under the auspices of Norway and the supervision of priest Riad Jarjour, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Thursday.
The daily said that “secret meetings” have been held in the Lebanese capital in presence of political and religious figures from both sides.
“The away from media spotlight meetings will be announced in few weeks after breaking the ice between the two sides of the conflict and reach a common ground,” sources told the newspaper.
The report continues that the figures who are taking part in the meetings are paving the way for a high level talks if they succeed in bridging the gap to end the near four-year Syrian conflict.
Lebanese parties are sharply divided over the crisis in Syria as the March 8 alliance continuously expresses its support to Assad, while the March 14 camp voices its support for the popular revolt.
Jarjour, who was tasked by Norway to supervise the dialogue, refused to confirm in comments to al-Akhbar the report. However he pointed out that the talks are held among “Syrians who don't classify themselves as opposition or regime members.”
“It's a Syrian-Syrian dialogue,” he noted.
Sources told the daily that the meetings include political figures “whose names weren't revealed due to their delicate condition and over fears of any security act targeting them.”
The report said “high-ranking Lebanese officials facilitated the entrance and exit of the Syrian figures,” which compelled choosing Lebanon as a venue for the meetings.
The newspaper noted that the talks held in Beirut are part of other meetings carried out in other countries.
In January, Syrian opposition figures carried out four-day meetings with members of Assad's regime, a meeting which was boycotted by the main exiled opposition alliance the National Coalition.
Russia, the most powerful backer of Assad's government, hopes to burnish its credentials as a diplomatic mediator while it is itself mired in a showdown with the West over the conflict in Ukraine.
Two previous rounds of talks in Geneva ended without success.
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