Syrian opposition threatens to boycott peace talks again

Syrian opposition threatens to boycott peace talks again
Mon Jan 20, 2014 08:12:01

The so-called Syrian National Council (SNC) has threatened to boycott the Geneva II conference only two days after announcing its readiness to come, saying they will not attend if Iran is present at the talks.

The long-awaited talks on Syria have been marred by changing stances at the side of deeply fractured Syrian opposition which still has many strong groups inside that refuse to take part and even see it as a betrayal.

SNC, one of the main opposition groups, announced on Saturday that it will attend the talks aimed at stopping daily loss of life in Syria which has been gripped by a deadly unrest since 2011, but it didn’t take more than two days to threaten not to attend again.

"The Syrian Coalition announces that they will withdraw their attendance in Geneva 2 unless Ban Ki-moon retracts Iran's invitation," Reuters quoted SNC spokesman Louay Safi as saying on Monday.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon announced on Sunday that Iran was given an invitation to take part in the conference.

Ban said Tehran has accepted the invitation though no official statement has been published by Iranian officials so far.

Iran has previously said that it would not attend the conference if conditions are set for its participation.

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described as unacceptable any preconditions for the Islamic Republic’s participation in the talks, saying Iran will be present with the same condition other countries are.

However Washington also reacted to Ban’s announcement by setting preconditions for Iran’s participation.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement that the decision must be changed unless Tehran publicly backs the 2012 agreement on Syria transition government.

"If Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva communiqué, the invitation must be rescinded," Psaki said in the statement.

The Geneva II conference will kick off in the Swiss city of Montreux on January 22 and then move to the UN headquarters in Geneva on January 24 after a one-day break.

The war in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.

More than 130,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the turmoil.


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