Syria conflict: Khoja elected National Coalition leader(BBC)

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Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group, the National Coalition, has elected a new leader.

Khaled Khoja won 56 of the 106 votes cast at a meeting on Sunday in Istanbul, where the coalition is based.

The 49-year-old doctor and businessman from Damascus replaces Hadi al-Bahra, who did not stand for re-election.

Mr Khoja’s appointment comes as Russia, an ally of President Bashar al-Assad, attempts to bring the Syrian government and opposition together for talks.

The National Coalition has not ruled out participating, but wants several conditions to be met.

It insists that any negotiated settlement be based on the 2011 Geneva Communique, which calls for the formation of a transitional governing body with full executive powers – something Mr Assad’s supporters reject.

An official in Damascus was quoted by state media last month saying that the government was “ready to participate in preparatory, advisory meetings in Moscow”.

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