Arab League formally endorses Geneva talks

Arab League formally endorses Geneva talks
Mon Nov 4, 2013 17:53:56

Arab states formally endorsed proposed peace talks to end the Syrian civil war that have been delayed by disputes between world powers and divisions among the opposition.

A final communiqué after an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers on Sunday called on the opposition swiftly to form a delegation under the leadership of the mainstream Syrian National Coalition, to attend the "Geneva 2" talks.

The Arab League's position indicated Persian Gulf rivals Qatar and Saudi Arabia - who have backed different militant groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad - had put their differences aside to urge opposition chief Ahmad Jarba to head to Geneva.

But even with regional diplomatic weight thrown behind the talks, it is unclear when they will go ahead and what they can achieve. The mainly exiled political opposition has limited clout over militant groups on the ground, who include al Qaeda-linked militants.

The growing influence of radical militants and divisions among foreign backed militant groups have made world bodies reluctant to intervene directly in a foreign-led conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people and driven millions from their homes.

Syria's Foreign Ministry reiterated on Sunday that it must be up to Syrians alone "to choose their leadership and political future without political interference".

Accusing US Secretary of State John Kerry of trying to derail the talks, it said in a statement he "must realize that the success of the Geneva conference depends on the will of the Syria people themselves".

The Arab League, however, said only pressure from major powers could ensure a successful outcome in Geneva.

In its communiqué it "reaffirmed the Arab position that demands the necessity of the required international guarantees to supervise and ensure the success of a peaceful solution at the Geneva 2 conference".

The League is dominated by states ruled by countries who mostly lined up against Assad throughout the conflict.


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