(Reuters) - The Syrian opposition leader met Russia’s foreign minister on Saturday and a diplomatic source said he would also see Iran’s foreign minister, opening a window to a possible breakthrough in efforts to broker an end to Syria’s civil war.
Russia and Iran have been the staunchest allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout an armed uprising against his rule, and any understandings they might reach with Assad’s foes could help overcome the two sides’ refusal to negotiate.
At an annual international security conference in Munich, Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib had talks with Russia’s Sergei Lavrov that may have been made possible by Alkhatib signaling readiness to talk to Damascus.
He also met separately with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and U.N. special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.
“Russia has a certain vision but we welcome negotiations to alleviate the crisis and there are lots of details that need to be discussed,” Alkhatib said after the meeting.
A diplomatic source said the Alkhatib would also meet Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who was attending the Munich security conference on Saturday, but this could not be independently confirmed.
Russia has blocked three U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at pushing out Assad out or pressuring him to end the civil war, in which more than 60,000 people have died. But Moscow has also tried to distance itself from Assad by saying it is not trying to prop him up and will not offer him asylum.
A Syrian opposition leader said Friday that President Bashar Assad’s regime is trying to destroy a U.N.-brokered peace plan for the country. The accusations came as security forces fanned out following twin suicide car bombings that killed 55 people in Damascus.
The bombings on Thursday fueled fears of a rising Islamic militant element among those seeking to oust Assad and dealt a further blow to international efforts to end the bloodshed. Assad’s government blamed the blasts on armed terrorists it says are driving the uprising.
On Friday, a pro-government TV station said security forces prevented another massive bombing in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest, shooting dead a suicide attacker shortly before he detonated a mini bus filled with 3,300 pounds of explosives.
Ikhbariya TV broadcast footage of a Syrian police general showing two U.N. observers the minibus and four large metal containers that were rigged with explosives. A bearded and bloodied dead man was in the driver’s seat wearing what appeared to be an explosive belt. The station said the man tried to detonate the minibus Friday afternoon in the busy neighborhood of Shaar.