Syria agrees to join Geneva peace talks

Foreign minister says "Syrian-Syrian" dialogue should take place without foreign interference.

    Syria agrees to join Geneva peace talks
    More than 250,000 people have died and millions have been displaced in Syria's war, which began in March 2011 [Alaa Al-Faqir/Reuters]

    Syria is ready to participate in peace talks in Geneva aimed at ending its civil war, the country's foreign minister said during an official visit to China.

    "Syria is ready to participate in the Syrian-Syrian dialogue in Geneva without any foreign interference," Walid Muallem said during a press briefing on Thursday, following his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

    Last week, the UN Security Council gave its unanimous support to a plan to end the Syrian conflict by summoning rebels and the regime to the negotiating table.


    READ MORE: Syrian opposition - No ceasefire unless Assad goes 


    With crucial backing from the United States and Russia, the plan aims to install a ceasefire in Syria, possibly in January, when talks could also begin.

    "Our delegation will be ready as soon as we receive a list of the opposition delegation," he said. "We hope that this dialogue will be successful to help us in having a national unity government.

    "This government will compose a constitutional committee to look for a new constitution with a new law of election so the parliamentary election will be held within the period of 18 months, more or less."

    Friday's resolution gives UN blessing to a plan negotiated earlier in Vienna that calls for a ceasefire, talks between the Syrian government and opposition and a roughly two-year timeline to create a unity government and hold elections.


     READ MORE: Syria's Assad rules out negotiations with 'terrorists'


    But the obstacles to ending the war remain daunting, with no side in the conflict able to secure a clear military victory.

    Despite their agreement at the UN, major powers are bitterly divided on who may represent the opposition as well as on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    Wang over the weekend invited Syrian government and opposition figures to come to China as it looks to ways to help with the peace process.

    At least 250,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which is in its fifth year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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