The Syrian political opposition has agreed to participate in international peace talks in Geneva, but only if certain preconditions are met, the Syrian National Coalition has said in a statement.
The statement, released early on Monday, outlined conditions that must be met before the talks, which aim to end Syria’s two-and-a-half year civil war, by creating a transitional governing body.
The requisites included the need for a guarantee that relief agencies be allowed access to besieged areas, the release of political prisoners and the demand that any conference should result in a political transition.
“The oppositions’ request asked for an end to the fighting, withdrawal of Syrian armed forces from major cities and discussed an urgency of the introduction of humanitarian aid,” Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught reported from Istanbul, where the SNC was meeting..
The main sticking point continued to be centered on the role of Bashar al-Assad, with the opposition demanding that Syria’s president not have any part in the country’s future.
The statement also said a committee had been assigned to continue talks with revolutionary forces inside and outside Syria to explain its stance on the “Geneva 2” conference, after some rebel fighters voiced opposition.
The Syrian National Coalition reached a decision to attend the Geneva 2 conference after two days of discussions in Istanbul.
“All we can do is hope is that these talks will end with the departure of Bashar al-Assad,” said Adib Shishakly, a member of the coalition.
Russia and Western nations are pushing for new talks between the Syrian government and rebels on a negotiated solution to the conflict, which has killed more than 115,000 people since March 2011.
The peace talks aim to map a path forward towards a political transition in Syria, and to put in place a transitional government.