Switzerland: US welcomes Syrian opposition at Geneva talks

30th Jan 2016
Switzerland: US welcomes Syrian opposition at Geneva talks

WASHINGTON (AA): The U.S. on Friday welcomed the decision by a main opposition group to attend Syrian peace talks already in progress and hosted by the UN in Geneva.

“The United States also reiterates that UN Security Council Resolution 2254 must be fully implemented by all parties to the talks, including with regard to the urgent need for humanitarian access for besieged areas of Syria,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a written statement.

Resolution 2254 is a road map for a peace process in Syria that sets timetables for negotiations and outlines a nationwide cease-fire to begin as soon as initial steps toward a political transition are made.

The talks led by the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, began Friday but without Syrian opposition group High Negotiations Committee (HNC).

The HNC had cited a lack of assurances from the UN about ending airstrikes by Syrian and Russian forces, and the lifting of sieges on towns as reasons for its lack of participation.

The group had stressed that it would not attend if those “preconditions” were not fulfilled.

The U.S. encouraged the group to seize the “historic opportunity to attend” but without preconditions. Disputes about who should represent the opposition forced a delay in getting the talks underway.

Turkey did not want representation by the PYD – the Syrian affiliate of the PKK that Ankara designates a terrorist group – although the U.S. considers the PYD a reliable partner on the ground fighting Daesh.

Ironically, Russia, a strong ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, wanted the PYD’s presence at the talks which were pushed back from Monday to Friday.

The Geneva conference will focus on setting up an interim government, forming a constitution and staging elections within two years.

The initial priorities are to establish a cease-fire, supply humanitarian aid and tackle Daesh.

Turkey’s foreign ministry Mideast director general, Can Dizdar, will be in Geneva to follow the negotiations.

The Syria conflict began in 2011 and has led to the deaths of more than 250,000 victims and displaced 10 million others, according to the UN.

 

Author Esra Kaymak

 

[Photo: Syria’s ambassador to UN and head of Assad Regime’s delegation Bashar al-Jaafari (not seen) and UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura (3rd L) attend a session of Syrian peace negotiations in Geneva, Syria on January 29, 2016.  Photographer: Dursun Aydemir]

 

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