Syria Allows Opposition to Meet
Leaders converge on Damascus, may call for talks with government
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2011 9:43 AM CDT
Prominent opposition figures and critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime gather for a meeting in Damascus, Syria, Monday, June 27, 2011.   (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)

(Newser) – A host of Syrian opposition figures gathered in Damascus for a meeting that actually has the blessing of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Despite that approval, it was hard for organizers to find a venue, because many feared the government would attack the summit, the New York Times reports. Some activists have criticized the meeting, because they think it gives the false impression that the government will tolerate dissenting voices.

The meeting features a host of grizzled opposition veterans—including some who’ve served prison time for their views. No government representatives were invited, and leaders say they won't talk with the government while troops are still firing on protesters. But speculation persists that the meeting could lead to talks. “The question is whether they call for dialogue,” says one human rights advocate, “and if they do, how do they carry out dialogue when the army and the security forces are still in the streets?”