Syrian opposition postpones forming government

ISTANBUL Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:37pm IST

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Syrian opposition leaders meeting in Istanbul have postponed forming a transitional government, the Syrian National Coalition said on Monday, in a setback for efforts to fill a power vacuum in the war-torn country.

The talks launched on Saturday were the opposition's second bid to form a government, with its credibility at stake as the country slides into sectarian conflict between majority Sunni muslims and President Bashar al-Assad's minority Alawite sect.

The 70-member coalition, dominated by Islamists and their allies, was formed with Western and Gulf backing in Qatar at the beginning of December. Power struggles among its members have undermined efforts to agree a transitional government.

A five-member committee would to put forward proposals on a government to the coalition within 10 days, it said on Monday.

The committee would "consult opposition forces and the Free Syrian Army and friendly states to get their opinion about forming the government and the extent to which they can honour the necessary commitments for its financial and political viability," the coalition said in a statement.

Sources at the negotiations in Istanbul said on Sunday that Syrian National Coalition President Moaz Alkhatib had flown to Qatar to secure promises of financial aid for a transitional government in rebel-held areas.

The talks had been hit by disagreement over whether a transitional government could survive when Alkhatib left in the middle of deliberations, the sources said. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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