Syrian coalition undecided on peace meeting

Group had originally agreed to attend Geneva conference

President of the Syrian National Coalition Ahmad Al-Jarba  says the Syrian opposition group is likely to attend a planned peace conference in Switzerland early next year. Photograph: Mohamed Abd/Reuters

President of the Syrian National Coalition Ahmad Al-Jarba says the Syrian opposition group is likely to attend a planned peace conference in Switzerland early next year. Photograph: Mohamed Abd/Reuters

Wed, Nov 27, 2013, 01:00


The expatriate Syrian National Coalition said yesterday that it has not decided whether to participate in the proposed peace conference scheduled to be held on January 22nd in Geneva.

The coalition had previously agreed to attend after its western and Gulf Arab sponsors insisted that the goal of negotiations with the government would be the removal of president Bashar al-Assad and the establishment of a transitional authority in which he has no part.

The government argues that since he is the legitimate head of state and cannot step down until his term ends next year, he will participate in the transition from Baath party rule to multi-party democracy.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon recently proposed that the conference be held in mid-December. If that date had been accepted, the positive atmosphere generated by the landmark agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme might have boosted the prospects of the Syrian talks.

Persistent disagreements over the role of Dr Assad in the transition, the list of invitees and the composition of the opposition delegation have stalled negotiations to end the war and launch the transition.