Syria Lawmaker Rejects Opposition's Precondition for National Dialogue

Opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib said he is willing to negotiate with President Assad on condition the government releases political prisoners.

A prominent lawmaker from Syria's ruling party has rejected preconditions for dialogue set by the opposition chief to help end nearly two years of bloodshed.

Fayez Sayegh tells The Associated Press that dialogue between the Syrian government and its political opponents in the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition should start without preconditions.

Opposition chief Mouaz al-Khatib called on President Bashar Assad on Monday to respond to his overture for dialogue to save the country after 22 months of civil war. Al-Khatib suggested that Assad should begin releasing tens of thousands of political prisoners as a first step.

Sayegh said Tuesday that the numbers cited were exaggerated and that the opposition aimed to embarrass the regime.

Syria's revolt began in March 2011 and has killed 60,000 people according to the UN.