Syrian FM to head government’s negotiation team

Syrian FM to head government’s negotiation team
Fri Dec 20, 2013 22:37:38

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem is going to lead Syrian delegation to the upcoming peace talks with the opposition, a Russian diplomat has said.

"It will be headed by Foreign Minister Walid Muallem," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies following talks in Geneva with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and a US negotiating team.

Gatilov added that the Syrian opposition had still not come up with a delegation because of deep internal division which threatened scuttling the January 24 talks.

"Without settling this issue, it will hard to expect that the conference will be held," Gatilov was quoted as saying.

The Russian negotiator added that he may conduct one more round of talks with US officials after their refusal on Friday to agree to Iran's participation at the so-called Geneva II meeting.

"We may need additional contacts at the ministerial level in order to clear up the situation around Iran," Gatilov said.

Brahimi said after Friday's preparatory talks in Geneva that the United States had rejected Iran's involvement but that Saudi Arabia was on the list of three dozen nations invited to the talks.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have been strongest supporters of the war in Syria with Riyadh and Doha spending billions of dollars to support militants.

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who is Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency has been referred by many as a one of the main figures leading the war against Syria.

On November 30th, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the whole war in his country could end if Riyadh stopped its illegal support to extremists groups in Syria.


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