Syrian gov’t yet to decide on resuming peace talks

Syrian gov’t yet to decide on resuming peace talks
Thu Feb 6, 2014 13:29:26

The Syrian government has not decided yet whether to take part in a second round of peace talks tentatively scheduled for next week following the fruitless meetings of Geneva II, a senior official said.

A tumultuous week of negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva last month between President Bashar Assad's government and Western-backed militant groups ended without making any significant headway as the militant groups were divided even on their unspecified demands and stances.

The U.N. has proposed holding a second round of discussions that would begin Monday.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition already has agreed to attend.

Bouthaina Shaaban, a close political and media adviser to Assad, told Syrian state television in an interview late Wednesday that the government delegation to last month's talks in Switzerland is still evaluating the first round of negotiations and briefing the leadership on them.

Shaaban did not say when a decision on attending next week's proposed talks would be made, only saying that the delegation is waiting on instructions from Syria's leadership.

However Assad's chief ally, Russia, expressed confidence earlier this week that the Syrian government would indeed return to the U.N.-hosted peace talks in Geneva.

The so-called Syrian National Council (SNC) and its Western supporters insist that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down and a transitional government be formed in Syria.

However, Damascus rejects the demand, arguing that the SNC does not represent the Syrian opposition.


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