icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
20 Oct, 2013 09:04

Geneva peace talks may at last convene November 23 - Arab League chief

The peace conference in Geneva on a political resolution of the Syrian crisis may finally start on November 23, says Arab League chief as quoted by AFP. The date of the gathering had been postponed many times amid the opposition’s refusal to participate.

Nabil al-Arabi announced the possible date of the long-awaited ‘Geneva2’ conference after meeting UN-Arab League peace envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.

"I discussed the Syria file with Lakhdar Brahimi and it was decided that the Geneva meeting would take place on November 23 and arrangements are being made to prepare for this conference," al-Arabi told reporters in Cairo. 

"There are many difficulties that must be overcome for this conference to succeed," he added, however.

Arabi and Brahimi met on Sunday in the Egyptian capital, where the envoy for Syria arrived as part of his Middle Eastern tour to drum up support for Geneva-2. 

Brahimi on his part warned that no peace conference can take place without credible opposition participation. He added that Saudi Arabia and Iran’s presence is also needed for a comprehensive representation of parties with invested interests in Syria. He said the date is yet to be officially set. 

However, the ITAR-TASS news agency reports that UN spokesman, Martin Nesirky, did not confirm this information to its correspondent.

“As I have said before, [the] UN Secretary General will call [a] conference in Geneva. When he is ready to do so, [he] will do it,” Nesirky told the agency.

Earlier this week a similar deadline was mooted by Syrian Deputy Prime Minister, Qadri Jamil, during his visit in Moscow.

But some media reports said the meeting may be postponed again by as far as mid-December due to the refusal of the Syrian opposition to participate.

Convening an inclusive peace conference to tackle the Syrian conflict was given priority in May, after a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The goal of the planned event is to find a compromise, which would bring an end to bloodshed in the country and lead to forming a transitional government.

While the Syrian government was quick to agree to the internationally-sponsored initiative, similar support has not been forthcoming from the many opposition groups. A great deal of the groups fighting on the ground in Syria, especially those with Islamist leanings, either rejected the idea of negotiations or ignored the peace effort. Moscow on several occasions complained that countries, which support the Syrian opposition and supposedly have leverage over them, are not doing enough to convince them to sit down at the negotiating table.

U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi (Reuters / Larry Downing)

The troubled preparation for the conference comes as Syria continues its chemical weapons disarmament. On Saturday, Syrian state TV released footage of members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspecting a Syrian chemical weapons facility. The details on the date and the location have not been released.

The OPCW team is assisting the Syrian government in fulfilling its commitment to dismantle its chemical weapons stockpile. Damascus decided to get rid of its arsenal after being blamed for using the weapons of mass destruction against rebel forces.

Following the August sarin gas incident, the US threatened to use military force against Syria. While Damascus insists that it did not use chemical weapons and calls the sarin attack a rebel provocation, it agreed to declare and destroy its stockpile to defuse tension.