Assad to send official delegation to Geneva meeting

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that his administration would send an official delegation to the forthcoming international conference on the Syrian crisis slated for mid-June in Geneva.

"We will formally go to the (Geneva) conference as legitimate representatives of our people," Assad told Lebanese al-Manar TV in an interview aired Thursday evening.

He, however, played down the exiled opposition's weight, saying "when we go to the conference, we will be negotiating with the countries that stand behind the exiled opposition but not to negotiate with it (opposition)."

"When we ostensibly negotiate with the slave, we would be negotiating with the master substantively," he said.

The president also said that all of the decisions of the Geneva conference would be put for popular referendum.

Yet, the Syrian administration's approval to go to Geneva has met with the exiled opposition's rejection to embark on dialogue with Assad in Geneva.

The oppositional National Coalition said Thursday that they would not take part in the Geneva conference before the Syrian troops halt its operation in the central city of al-Qussair.

Yet, political analysts said the coalition's rejection aimed to buy time for the opposition to put aside their differences after failing to do so during the week-long conference in Turkey's Istanbul.

The planned conference in Geneva is set to focus on the recent U.S.-Russian efforts to revive political options for resolving the long-standing stalemate in Syria.

It aims at reviving a previous meeting held in June 2012 in Geneva and sponsored also by the two major powers.

However, last year's meeting, which called for immediate ceasefire between the Syrian fighting parties and launching inter- Syrian dialogue for a transitional government, was fruitless in the end as it could not be implemented on the ground.

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