Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
WEDNESDAY, 23 APR 2014
10:16 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Syria opposition pressed to sign up for peace talks
Agence France Presse
US Secretary of State John Kerry throws his scarf over his shoulder as he arrives at the Le Bourget airport to attend a two-day meeting on Syria, on January 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS
US Secretary of State John Kerry throws his scarf over his shoulder as he arrives at the Le Bourget airport to attend a two-day meeting on Syria, on January 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS
A+ A-

PARIS: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday led an international bid to drag Syria's divided opposition into meaningful peace negotiations with President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

At the start of a crucial couple of weeks for attempts to end a civil war that has claimed 130,000 lives, Kerry joined ministers from 10 other countries in seeking to persuade the opposition National Coalition to attend a first round of talks in Montreux, Switzerland on January 22.

The Swiss talks have been organised in an attempt to revive a long-stalled framework for peace involving a cessation of hostilities and the creation of a national transitional government that could involve figures from the current regime and the opposition.

But the opposition is wary of being drawn into a process they fear could result in Assad clinging on to power and have yet to give a commitment to attending.

Coalition leader Ahmad Jarba has called for Assad to stop using heavy weapons, lift sieges on a number of opposition-held areas and allow the opening of humanitarian corridors as a show of good faith ahead of any talks.

There has been no sign of progress on those issues but US officials have expressed confidence that, with little prospect of securing a military victory after nearly three years of fighting, the opposition will come to Montreux.

"I think in the final analysis they won't want to miss that opportunity, because frankly there's no other game, really," a US diplomat told reporters.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was vital the opposition came to the negotiating table.

"I know that it is not an easy decision for the opposition in Syria," he said. "We want to work to convince them today in Paris and remove the last obstacles that may arise.

"We must get down to work in earnest. I fear that we will not be successful if we do not manage to include the opposition in these talks."

The balance of power in the conflict in Syria appears to have tipped in Assad's favour over the last week as deadly clashes have erupted between the mainstream opposition and an al Qaeda-linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with which they were previously allied.

Skirmishes have left an estimated 500 people dead in a matter of days and ISIL is threatening to abandon frontline positions in the area around Syria's second city, Aleppo.

The fighting has exacerbated concern in western capitals over the strength of radical Islamist groups within the broad alliance of forces fighting Assad.

Hopes of progress towards peace in Syria rose last year when Assad agreed to give up the regime's chemical weapons after the West pulled back from the brink of threatened military intervention.

Opposition leaders fear that deal, which involved Syria's ally Russia becoming a pivotal player in the efforts to end the conflict, has diluted the West's determination to see Assad removed from power.

Among the other issues due to be discussed on Sunday was whether Iran, an important backer of Assad, will have any role in peace talks further down the line.

Russia has been lobbying for Tehran to be brought into the process and the issue is likely to dominate discussions on Monday between Kerry, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria.

As well as the the United States and hosts France, the countries taking part in Sunday's meeting were Britain, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

 
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Syria
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Story Summary
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday led an international bid to drag Syria's divided opposition into meaningful peace negotiations with President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

At the start of a crucial couple of weeks for attempts to end a civil war that has claimed 130,000 lives, Kerry joined ministers from 10 other countries in seeking to persuade the opposition National Coalition to attend a first round of talks in Montreux, Switzerland on January 22 .

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was vital the opposition came to the negotiating table.

Opposition leaders fear that deal, which involved Syria's ally Russia becoming a pivotal player in the efforts to end the conflict, has diluted the West's determination to see Assad removed from power.
Related Articles
 
 
Anti-Assad allies rebuff Syrian presidential election plan
 
 
Syria paper accuses peace envoy of encouraging 'terror'
 
 
Syria says won't be swayed by Arab summit
 
 
UN slams Syria's announcement of presidential elections
 
 
Syria's political opposition urges U.S. action after Aleppo
Show More
Entities
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Tuesday April 22, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS