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Syrian official calls on rebels to negotiate

BEIRUT – Syria’s foreign minister invited the country’s rebels Saturday to lay down their weapons and take part in a national dialogue, 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 could join the Cabinet as long as they reject foreign intervention in Syria. The Syrian government has started contacting “representatives of the Syrian people,” he added.

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

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