7 February 2014, 14:49

Geneva-2: Damascus to attend 2nd round of talks, internal Syrian opposition not to

Geneva-2: Damascus to attend 2nd round of talks, internal Syrian opposition not to

Damascus confirmed that it will attend the next round of talks of the negotiations on the Syrian settlement which due to start in Geneva on February 10. Meanwhile the main group of the domestic Syrian opposition - the National Coordination Committee (NCC) - would not participate in talks, its official representative Haytham Manna has told the al-Mayadin TV channel.

Manna has noted that the meeting between the leader of the domestic opposition Hassan Abdel Azim and head of the National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, Mr. Ahmad Jarba, held on February 6 in Cairo, had ended without results.

The meeting was organized on the initiative of Russian and Egyptian diplomats after Jarba’s trip to Moscow, ITAR-TASS reports. The NCC refused to join the delegation under the auspices of a foreign coalition. According to the al-Safir newspaper, Abdel Azim insists on establishing a joint delegation including eight representatives of each party. An agreement on such a format was reached at the meeting in Cairo on January 10, but later the leadership of the NCROF refused to follow these agreements. Manna believes that "the American influence" was a reason for this. According to him, the current delegation, which negotiates on behalf of the opposition in Geneva, "is not sovereign."

Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Muqdad, confirmed on Friday that Damascus will take part in a second round of peace talks.

The participation of the government delegation to the second round of talks in Geneva has been decided, Muqdad said, adding that the delegation will stress to discuss the items of the Geneva I communique, concluded in 2012.

"It has been decided that the delegation of the Syrian republic will take part in the second round of negotiations in Geneva," state news agency SANA.

The delegation will also discuss putting an end to the terrorism in Syria, said Muqdad, a member of the government delegation.

Last Friday, the first round of talks in Geneva between the delegations of the Syrian government and the oppositional Syrian National Coalition (SNC) ended without achieving results with both sides sticking to their demands.

The talks, mediated by the international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, were marred with confrontational tones.

The opposition coalition demanded from the very beginning the establishment of a transitional government in Syria with full executives, based on the communique adopted at a previous conference in Geneva in 2012. They said President Bashar al-Assad must have no role in the transitional government.

However, the government team said it is not going to hand over power to the coalition, but only to negotiate a political solution. It said Assad's departure is a "red line."

Broader segments of the opposition are going to be represented in upcoming talks as the SNC delegation was the sole representative of the opposition in the last talks.

Syrian opposition to attend upcoming second round of Geneva talks - Ahmad Jarba

The head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCSROF), Ahmad Jarba, has confirmed that his coalition would attend the upcoming second round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported commenting on Tuesday's meeting between Jarba and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

"During a substantial and frank exchange of opinions, the sides stated that the process of political and diplomatic settlement in Syria as part of the Geneva-2 international conference should be continued in any case," the ministry said Tuesday.

Geneva-2 is the name for a forum organized by Russia and the United States that sought to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis, which has claimed over 100,000 lives and displaced millions since its start in 2011, according to UN statistics.

Geneva-2 opened on January 22 in Montreux, Switzerland, and continued on January 23-31 in Geneva. Its first round ended with no particular progress. The parties to the Syrian conflict took a pause for consultations and are expected to resume the talks on February 10.

The Russian ministry also said Lavrov and Jarba stressed that the start of direct intra-Syrian talks on January 24 was important.

"Jarba confirmed the National Coalition's participation in the second round of talks in Geneva," the ministry's statement also said. "Russia's unchanged position in favor of ensuring the maximum possible representational nature of the opposition delegation… was perceived with understanding."

At their meeting, Lavrov and Jarba "considered the results of the first round of dialogue between the delegations of the Syrian government and opposition in Geneva, emphasizing the necessity to reach practical accords, first of all in the humanitarian sphere," the Russian ministry said.

Lavrov noted that the Geneva Communique should be implemented in full, including issues of the fight against terrorism, ceasefire, humanitarian aid supplies and exchanges of prisoners.

Syrians should themselves find mutually acceptable solutions to ensure unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria with account for the interests of all population groups, the statement said.

The Geneva Communique (or Geneva-1 Communique) was adopted on June 30, 2012 at a conference of an "action group" on Syria in Geneva. That conference is now commonly referred to as "Geneva-1." Geneva-2 was a logical continuation of Geneva-1.

Voice of Russia, TASS, AFP

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