Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said his government is ready to negotiate on "everything" if proposed peace talks with the Syrian opposition go ahead.
Assad, in an interview with French journalists published by the Syrian SANA news agency on January 9, said his government's delegation for the proposed talks is ready to set out as soon as a date is determined.
Russia, Iran, and Turkey have proposed holding peace talks in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said the talks could begin on January 23.
Although Syrian opposition groups are discussing the possibility of the Astana talks, they have not formally announced whether they will participate.
In his January 9 interview, Assad downplayed the significance of Saudi- and Western-backed opposition forces in Syria -- saying it was important for what he called "real" opposition groups participate.
"When I say 'real,' I mean with grassroots in Syria -- not a Saudi or French or British one," Assad said. "It should be Syrian opposition to discuss Syrian issues."
Assad also refused to rule out running for the Syrian presidency again in the future, saying that depended on "the will of the Syrian people."
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.