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Excerpts from Syrian President Assad's speech

Jan. 6, 2013 4:44 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 7, 2013 4:39 P.M.)
BEIRUT (Reuters) -- The following are excerpts from President Bashar Assad's speech in Damascus on Sunday in the capital's Opera House.

Hope born from pain

"Today we meet and suffering permeates Syrian land and there is no place for joy in any corner of the country while security and safety are absent from its streets and alleyways."

"We meet today and there are mothers who have lost their finest children and families who have lost their providers, children who have been orphaned and brothers divided among the martyrs, the refugees, and the missing."

"But from the womb of pain hope must be born and from the depth of suffering the most important solutions are produced."

Call to mobilize

"Syria will only exit this calamity by converting this energy into a total national mobilization to save the country from the clutches of a crisis which has no precedent in this region."

"Every citizen is responsible for doing what he can to offer something no matter how simple in his eyes, for the nation is for everyone and we all must defend it with all that we have."

"Terrorists holding the views of al-Qaida who call themselves jihadists are the ones running the terrorist operations here and we are fighting them. It is not impossible to destroy them if we have the courage."

'War in every sense of the word'

"Whoever talks solely of a political solution only is turning a blind eye to the facts and he is either ignorant or has been fooled into selling his people and the blood of martyrs for free and we will not allow this."

"We are now in a state of war in every sense of the word. This war targets Syria using a handful of Syrians and many foreigners. Thus, this is a war of defending the nation."

Assad's initiative

"We will have dialogue with all those who opposed us politically and all who have rejected our positions as long as their positions were not based on trying to destroy our principles and national foundations."

"We will have dialogue with all parties and individuals that did not sell our country to the foreigner. The political solution will be along the following lines:

"The first stage: First of all, regional and foreign countries must stop funding, arming and harboring militants at the same time that gunmen stop all terrorist operations in order to ease the return of displaced Syrians to their original homes in safety and security."

"Immediately after that, all military operations by our armed forces will stop, though they will reserve the right to respond in the case of attack on the security of the nation or residents or public and private property."

"Second, a mechanism will be created to ensure commitment to all previous agreements for controlling the borders."

"Third, the current government will immediately begin intensive communications with all elements of Syrian society, its parties and organizations...It will hold a national dialogue conference that all forces interested in a solution in Syria can participate in."

"The second stage: First, the current government will hold a comprehensive national dialogue to reach a national pact that commits to the sovereignty of Syria and the unity and peace of its territory and the rejection of intervention in its affairs and the rejection of terrorism and violence in all its forms."

"This pact is what will outline the political future of Syria and will propose a new constitutional and legal system along with its political and economic features. It will agree on new laws for parties, elections and local administration."

"Second, the national pact will be sent for popular referendum."

"Third, an expanded government will be formed, which includes all elements of Syrian society and it will implement the articles of the pact."

"Fourth, the new constitution will be put to popular referendum and after it is confirmed, the expanded government will use the new agreed laws from the pact and the new constitution and will run new parliamentary elections."

"The third stage will be the forming of a new government according to the constitution."

"Second, a truth and reconciliation conference will be held and a general amnesty will be issued for all those arrested because of the events, in keeping with civil law."

"Third will be the work towards rehabilitating infrastructure and rebuilding and compensation to citizens hurt by events."

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