Friends of Syria in Paris to press opposition to attend Geneva 2
The Friends of Syria group was meeting the Syrian opposition in Paris on Sunday to press them to attend the Geneva 2 peace talks set for in the Swiss town of Montreux on 22 January. US Secretary of Sate John Kerry flew into the french capital on Saturday to attend.
Ministers from 11 countries met the president of Syria's main opposition National
The countries that make up the Friends of Syria group are:
- The United States,
- Saudi Arabia,
- United Arab Emirates,
Coalition, Ahmed Jarba, and two of the organisation's three vice-presidents at the French foreign ministry on Sunday to try to persuade them to attend Geneva 2.
Bashar al-Assad's government has already agreed to attend, although Foreign Affairs Minister Walid Mouallem that it has no intention of handing over power.
The opposition for its part insisted at the Geneva 1 talks that Assad's regime must go and a transitional government established.
Today it is calling for an end to the regime's use of heavy weapons and the opening of humanitarian corridors, according to its ambassador to France, Monzer Makhous.
Under pressure from the big powers to attend Geneva 2 without conditions, the coalition met for a fractious 48 hours in Istanbul this week but was unable to reach agreement.
It is due to meet again on 17 January.
Kerry is to meet Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris on Monday to discuss inviting Iran to Geneva 2, as well as other aspects of Middle East policy.
The former head of the French Institute of the Near East in Aleppo, Salam Kawakibi, accused the West of preparing an agreement with Assad "under the banner of the war against terrorism" in an interview with RFI Saturday.
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