Syrian Nat’l Coalition to attend Geneva talks with UN envoy
Syria’s foreign-backed opposition group, the so-called Syrian National Coalition (SNC), says it will participate in next month’s bilateral talks over the Syrian crisis in the Swiss city of Geneva with the United Nations special envoy to Syria.
Khaled Khoja, the head of the SNC, said in a Tuesday statement that he had informed the UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, that a delegation from the exiled opposition group would attend the negotiations in Geneva in May.
“The coalition reasserted its commitment to a political solution and the resumption of negotiations,” said the statement.
UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Saturday that invitations had been sent out to all parties who could help end the four-year-old crisis in Syria, including different Syrian factions as well as regional and international players.
According to Fawzi, the talks will kick off on May 4 and will last four to six weeks.
Stressing that terrorist groups such as ISIL and al-Nusra Front will not be taking part in the talks, he added that there will be “those who have relationships with them and, those who can communicate with them.”
A UN team, headed by de Mistura, will host separate discussions with Syria’s warring sides in a bid to put an end to the conflict in the Arab country.
The Syrian government has not officially confirmed its participation in the negotiations, but an unnamed Syrian official said the country’s envoy to the UN in Geneva, Hussam Eddin Ala, will represent the government in the talks.
Previous UN-mediated talks on Syria, dubbed Geneva I and II, failed to reach a solution to end the conflict.
A key sticking point in the talks will be the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the SNC says he must resign, a demand the Syrian government has rejected.
Destroyed buildings along streets filled with debris in the Syrian city of Homs (file photo)
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 222,000 people, according to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says over 7.2 million people have been internally displaced, and more than 3 million have been forced to flee the country.