UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's top deputy, Nasser al-Qudwa, called on Syrian opposition groups on Monday to formulate a unified set of demands that would allow for better cooperation with the international community in searching for a solution to the political crisis in Syria.
“The opposition should come up with their common demands so as to improve cooperation with the international community,” al-Qudwa said during a conference in Cairo organized by the Arab League, which was attended by some 250 representatives of Syria’s multiple opposition groups.
An international conference on Syria that took place in Geneva on Saturday was an “important step for Syria’s future,” he said.
The Action Group on Syria meeting in Geneva endorsed a plan stipulating the creation of a transitional government in Syria that would involve representatives of both the current regime and the opposition.
The talks were attended by the five permanent UN Security Council members (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) along with Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.
A statement issued following the meeting, in which EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League head Nabil El-Arabi also participated, called for "clear and irreversible" steps toward a political transition in Syria.
It did not specify, however, whether embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be excluded from a transition government, leaving its composition entirely up to the "mutual consent" of the Assad administration and the opposition. The document also urged the conflicting Syrian sides to stick to a six-point peace plan put forward by Annan.
Following the talks, representative of Syria’s major opposition groups criticized the "ambiguous" and “vague” language of the statement while ruling out any possibility of sharing power with Assad.
Al-Baath, the newspaper of Syria’s ruling Baath party, said the Geneva meeting had "failed."
“The agreement of the task force on Syria in Geneva on Saturday resembles an enlarged meeting of the UN Security Council where the positions of participants remained the same,” the paper said in an editorial, adding that it was only up to the Syrians themselves to decide on how to resolve the crisis.
Egypt’s new leader Mohamed Morsi, who was sworn in as president on Saturday, also urged Syrian opposition groups on Monday to unite and work out a common approach to resolving the crisis and building a “new democratic Syria.”