MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND – The Syrian government will demand support from the international community for its “fight against terrorism” during upcoming peace talks, sources in Damascus told Al Jazeera.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, in a speech he is scheduled to give during the peace conference in Switzerland, will also pledge to end the suffering of the Syrian people by agreeing to humanitarian corridors in besieged areas and to a ceasefire in Aleppo, the sources said.
Talks between representatives of the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the Western-backed opposition will begin on Wednesday. It is the first time the warring parties will enter into direct negotiations since the conflict in Syria began almost three years ago.
The government’s 15-member delegation, headed by Muallem, is not authorised to agree on any deal without referring back to Assad, the foreign minister will say during the so-called Geneva II conference.
The foreign minister will also emphasise that any future negotiations will have to be held within the Syrian territories, and that the government will not accept to set a timeframe for the negotiations.
Further, he will reiterate the government’s line about an international conspiracy facing the country and ask the international community to cooperate with Damascus in fighting the “terrorists” operating in the country.
The Syrian regime refers to all armed opposition groups as “terrorists”.
In Geneva, the opposition will also be represented by a 15-member delegation, including representatives of the armed opposition.
Commenting on the reported content of Muallem’s scheduled speech, Haitham al-Maleh, a member of the opposition delegation, said: “If they want to fight terrorism they should fight themselves.
“The criminal regime is the one who killed more than 100,000 civilians and destroyed houses. The regime forces are the ones who possess tanks, fighter jets and barrel bombs,” he told Al Jazeera from Geneva.
Commenting on the timeframe of negotiations, he said: “We want a specific timeframe to be set up for the transfer of power. The negotiations cannot drag forever.”
According to Al Jazeera’s sources, the government will agree to the opening of humanitarian corridors to besieged area but will stress that this process should take place under the government’s supervision.
Several rebel-held areas in the central city of Homs and the suburbs of Damascus have been under tight siege by government troops for months and residents there face acute shortage of food and medical supplies.
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