Middle East

Mursi signed death warrant for contact group: Syria

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi, left, talks at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Sept. 5, 2012. REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency/Handout

DAMASCUS: Syria has accused Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi of "signing the death warrant" of a contact group trying to solve the nearly 18-month conflict by calling for regime change, official media reported on Friday.

"Syria looks positively on any initiative seeking to contain the crisis and permit a return to normal life," Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad said in an interview on state television.

But Morsi's "latest comments signed the death warrant" of an Egyptian proposal for a regional contact group on Syria that would include Damascus's key ally Iran, as well as pro-rebel Saudi Arabia and Turkey, he said.

At a meeting in Cairo on Wednesday of Arab League ministers, Morsi said it was time for the Syrian regime to step down.

"The Syrian people have made their voice clear," he said, and, in a message to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, insisted: "You will not be around for long."

At a meeting in the Iranian capital late last month of the Non-Aligned Movement, Morsi also slammed the Damascus government as "oppressive" and urged support for the rebels fighting to oust the Assad regime.

Syrian government daily Tishrin on Friday took Morsi to task in an editorial.

"Morsi's partiality when it comes to terrorism, murder and destruction has condemned all efforts and initiatives in which Egypt might be involved," it said.

Damascus refers to rebels in the country as "terrorists." The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights puts the death toll at more than 26,000 since protests first erupted in the country nearly 18 months ago.





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