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Syria Agrees to Arab League Plan to End Crackdown

A handout photograph from Syria's national news agency shows Syria's delegation headed by FM Walid Moualem (C), Bouthaina Shaaban (behind Moualem), a political advisor to President Bashar al-Assad, and ambassador to the Arab League Yousef al-Ahmed (L) aft

Syria says it has reached agreement with the Arab League on a plan to end its deadly crackdown against an anti-government uprising and begin a dialogue between President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition.

Syria's state-run news agency said an official announcement would be delivered Wednesday at Arab League headquarters in Cairo. No other details were available.

Arab diplomats said their plan calls for the Syrian government to withdraw security forces from the streets, stop violence by pro-government forces against civilians and begin talks with the Syrian opposition in Cairo.

The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted diplomatic sources as saying Syria objected to meeting opposition leaders in Cairo and insisted on holding such talks in Damascus.

A Lebanese official with close ties to the Syrian government told Reuters authorities in Damascus had put forward their own proposals to the Arab League. He said Syria wants the opposition to "drop weapons, the Arab states to stop funding anti-government forces and an end to the media campaign against Syria."

In Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed support for the Syrian opposition. Turkey's Today's Zaman said Mr. Erdogan told a Parliament meeting that he believes "the Syrian people will be successful in their glorious resistance."

The 22-member Arab League sharpened its criticism of Syria after rights activists said Syrian security forces shot and killed dozens of anti-government protesters on Friday.

Also Tuesday, a Syrian official told the Associated Press that Syrian troops were laying land mines along parts of the border with Lebanon. The official said the mines are intended to stop weapons smuggling into the country during the uprising.

But observers say the mining shows Mr. Assad is taking every measure to choke off opposition to his 11-year rule. They say it is also a warning to neighbors not to interfere in the Syrian conflict.

The United Nations says the number of people killed in the seven-month-old uprising has surpassed 3,000. The Syrian government says terrorists have killed hundreds of security personnel during that period.

Many Syrian protesters have been calling for Western powers to impose a Libya-style no-fly zone over Syria. But, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday the alliance has no intention of taking military action in Syria.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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