Inter-Syrian negotiations start with mutual recriminations
The Syrian negotiations, which officially started in Geneva on January 29th as a direct dialogue between the government of Bashar al-Assad and the opposition, haven’t begun. A new terrorist attack took place in Damascus today. According to preliminary information, more than 60 people were killed. The Syrian opposition denied yesterday’s information in the mass media regarding an ultimatum for Assad’s government. It was reported that the official Syrian authorities had been given 48 hours to raise sieges from some cities with opposition supporters and innocent people, otherwise the opposition would leave the negotiating process in Geneva.
The head of the government delegation, Bashar al-Jafar, summed up the negotiations as "indirect political debates.’’ However, he said that he didn’t know who was to be his opponent, as even representatives of the United Nations have no complete list of the delegation of the opposition. According to Damascus, a cessation of sending terrorists to Syria from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan – countries that support the opposition to Bashar Assad – is among the priority issues that should be discussed in Geneva.
Representatives of the Syrian opposition insist that above none of the negotiators should discuss political or humanitarian issues. The coordinator of the opposition delegation, Riad Hijab, said that if the UN and the international community put pressure on the Syrian government to halt 'violations', the opposition will have no reason to discuss it at the Geneva talks. He recalled that Damascus must comply with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution №2254. The opposition spokesman Salim al-Muslat noted that the delegation is optimistic because they" gathered here to find a solution for all Syrians and put an end to terrorist activities."
Bashar al-Jafar described the opposition as terrorists and directly linked it with the opposition that arranged the terrorist attacks in the Damascus suburb that led to 60 victims.
Against the background of a tightening of the beginning of negotiations, the UN special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said after the meeting with the opposition that he was optimistic, as it was a chance to resolve the decade-lasting conflict.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also noted that Washington urged the government and the opposition of Syria to hold talks in Geneva in order to put an end to the armed conflict.
He recalled that opportunities for a possible resolution of the conflict, which has led to deaths of thousands of civilians and 'the biggest humanitarian disaster since the World War II', have already been created in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution №2254. "It is possible now to stop the conflict with the help of peaceful means and preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. It is necessary to take the first urgent step in order not to miss a chance, and normalize the situation in Syria," the Secretary of State said.
It is expected that on Monday February 1st, Staffan de Mistura will hold a meeting with the delegation of the government at 13.00 MSK, as well as a delegation of opposition at 19.00 MSK.