Syrian govt and opposition both confirm attendance at Geneva 2
The repeatedly delayed peace talks are scheduled for January 22
in Geneva and will bring together Syrian President Bashar Assad’s
government and the opposition for the first time since the bloody
conflict began in March of 2011.
Despite their confirmed participation, the two sides still see talks going into different directions. The opposition wants to see a transitional government to emerge, while Assad’s government has stated that it is not attending the conference to hand over power.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Assad will send
an official delegation to the conference, highlighting that
representatives “will be going to Geneva not to hand over
power to anyone,” but to meet with those “who support a
political solution for Syria's future,” AP quoted the
statement as saying on Wednesday.
The Western-backed Syrian opposition coalition also said it will be attending. "We are now ready to go to Geneva," Reuters quoted Jarba as saying during a visit to Cairo, adding that the opposition sees the Geneva talks as a way towards a transitional government and a "genuine democratic transformation in Syria,” noting that Assad cannot be a part of that government.
"There is no way that the individual responsible for the destruction of the country can be responsible for building the country," said Jarba, referring to Assad.
The opposition group also made it clear earlier that it would need humanitarian corridors to surrounded rebel areas and the release of political prisoners.
The complete list of participants in the talks has not yet been
agreed upon. The opposition is fighting against Iran’s
attendance, arguing that it must stop taking part in the Syrian
war if it wants to attend.
"Iran is responsible for and takes part in the killing in Syria in a very clear way. It killed thousands of Syrians with its Revolutionary Guards and mercenaries from Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist group," Jarba told Reuters. "If Iran is serious about resolving the Syrian crisis, it must first withdraw its Revolutionary Guards and (Lebanese) Hizbollah mercenaries."
Negotiations were delayed in the past as attempts to bring both sides to the negotiating table failed. Key hurdles involved clarifying whether Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other regional powers should be attending the conference, and the issue of Assad remaining in power.
According to Syrian officials, Assad has no plans to give up power and is even planning to run in the upcoming elections in mid-2014.
The two-year conflict has already killed more than 100,000 people
and displaced over one million refugees. According to the
country’s officials Syria’s economy has lost an estimated US$100
billion during the war - the equivalent of two years of normal