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Riyadh Conference Holds onto Geneva Process

Riyadh Conference Holds onto Geneva Process

Friday, 24 November, 2017 - 06:15
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, center, poses for a group photo during a Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 22, 2017

Syrian opposition forces meeting in Riyadh agreed Thursday on forming a unified 50-member delegation to negotiate with the regime, and on choosing those members during a scheduled meeting Friday.

The gathering in Saudi Arabia of more than 140 participants from a broad spectrum of Syria's mainstream opposition also stressed on their attachment to the UN-sponsored Geneva process for solving the crisis in Syria, and asked for holding direct and unconditional talks with the regime.

Representative of the Cairo group, Firas Al-Khalidi, read the communiqué of the meeting, which lasted until early Friday.

He called on UN peace talks mediator Staffan de Mistura to “resume direct and unconditional talks for a solution based on UN Resolution 2254 and the Geneva I Declaration.”

Al-Khalidi also asserted that all participants agreed that a peaceful transition period in Syria could not happen without the departure of Bashar Assad and his clique at the start of the interim period.

The Russian Platform had reservations on the item related to Assad’s departure.

However, all participants thanked Saudi Arabia for its efforts in achievement the Riyadh meeting.

Additional meetings would be held on Friday to finalize the delegation for the next round of UN sponsored talks in Geneva, Al-Khalidi said.

Also on Friday, de Mistura will visit Moscow, where he is expected to discuss the situation in Syria, the upcoming Geneva talks and the Sochi meeting.

“The group of components present here in Riyadh and the Cairo and Moscow platforms have agreed on the formation of one delegation to participate in direct negotiations in Geneva in a few days based on the Geneva Declaration and UN Resolution 2254," Basma Qadmani, a member of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, said.

She clarified that, “There will be further meetings tomorrow to decide on the members of the delegation and determine its working mechanism.”

The Riyadh II conference brings together 144 delegates, including members from the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the armed groups, the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, the "Cairo" and the "Moscow" platforms, in addition to independent delegates.

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