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Syrian foreign minister calls on rebels to disarm and negotiate

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 19, 2013 at 3:47 p.m.

— Syria’s foreign minister has invited the country’s rebels to lay down their weapons and take part in a dialogue conference, saying everyone who participates will be included in a new Cabinet with wide executive powers.

Walid al-Moallem said in a live interview on state TV late Saturday that any opposition parties can join the Cabinet as long as they reject foreign intervention in Syria.

Earlier this month, President Bashar Assad dismissed calls that he step down, vowing to keep fighting.

Assad also proposed a national reconciliation conference, elections and a new constitution — concessions offered previously over the course of the uprising that began in March 2011.

The opposition says that Assad can play no role in a resolution to the conflict.

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