The Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad confirmed Sunday that it will participate "in principle" in the Geneva conference proposed by the United States and Russia to seek a peaceful solution to the country's internal conflict while combat continues in the city of Al Qusayr.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem made a surprise visit to Baghdad, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

At a press conference, Al Muallem said that the June conference is an "opportunity," adding that he will head the Syrian delegation attending it and insisting that, from the beginning of the conflict in March 2011, the Assad government "has believed that dialogue among the Syrian people is the solution" to the violence.

The conference is intended to get the Syrian government and the rebels to sit down at the same table to try and work out a political solution to the civil war, although so far the Syrian National Coalition, which encompasses most of the groups opposing the Assad regime, still has not decided if it will take part in the Geneva talks.

Syrian government forces are presently using heavy artillery and mortars to bombard the strategic rebel-held city of Al Qusayr, on the Lebanese border, for the eighth consecutive day. EFE