Syria ‘ready to participate’ in Moscow peace talks
search

Syria ‘ready to participate’ in Moscow peace talks

Main Western-backed opposition group says it has not yet decided if it will attend

Hadi Bahra (C), the head of the Syrian National Coalition, the country's main political opposition group, speaks during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Amr Nabil)
Hadi Bahra (C), the head of the Syrian National Coalition, the country's main political opposition group, speaks during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Amr Nabil)

DAMASCUS — Syrian state-run TV said Saturday that the government is prepared to take part in peace talks hosted by Russia next month, but the unnamed foreign ministry official it cited suggested the scope of the negotiations would be limited to “preliminary” talks meant to pave the way for a conference in Syria itself.

The official was quoted as saying the government was “ready to participate in preparatory, advisory meetings in Moscow” that would “answer the aspirations of Syrians to find an exit from the crisis.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry had said Thursday that it hoped to host peace talks after January 20 between the Syrian government and its fractured opposition. The nearly four-year conflict has claimed over 200,000 lives, displaced a third of Syria’s population, and nurtured an extremist group, the Islamic State, which now rules over vast swaths of Syria and neighboring Iraq.

Russia is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Western-backed Syrian opposition has insisted that any negotiated settlement include the formation of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, a demand rejected by Assad’s government.

Hadi Bahra, the head of the Syrian National Coalition, the main Western-backed opposition group, said it had not yet made a decision on the talks.

“We can’t give a response to something that’s still hanging in the air,” Bahra said. “There are no invitations, and what are they inviting us to? Is there a negotiations framework? Who will come? What is the aim?”

Russia has said that the first stage of talks would include members of both the government-tolerated internal opposition and opposition groups based abroad. In the next stage, they would be joined by Syrian government representatives.

But the Syrian government official was quoted as saying that “the preliminary, consultative meetings in Moscow are aimed at [finding] agreement on convening a dialogue conference between the Syrians themselves, without any foreign intervention.”

It is unclear whether Syria’s opposition leaders in exile or rebel leaders would attend a conference in a government-controlled part of the country — particularly one that only aims to create dialogue.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments