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Syrian opposition refuses to attend Geneva II conference

August 26, 2013, 21:00 UTC+3

Earlier in the day, a delegation of the Syrian opposition met with the Friends of Syria Group, which brings together Western and Arab states

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ANKARA, August 26 (Itar-Tass) - The armed Syrian opposition has refused to attend the international conference on Syria commonly referred to as Geneva II and accused the official Syrian authorities of using chemical weapons.

National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces leader Badr Jamous said on Monday, August 26, “We refuse to talk about Geneva after what happened.”

Earlier in the day, a delegation of the Syrian opposition met with the Friends of Syria Group, which brings together Western and Arab states.

Meanwhile, Russian and American experts are scheduled will meet in The Hague on August 28 to prepare the international conference on Syria.

The Russian and U.S. experts will “meet before the end of this month”, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after a meeting of the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries in Washington in early August. “We should, against all the odds, seek the earliest convocation of the Geneva II conference in accordance with the Russian-U.S. initiative adopted on May 7 of this year,” Lavrov noted.

“We need to do everything to move towards realization of the assigned goals: the unification of efforts of the Syrian government and opposition to eradicate terrorism and oust terrorists from Syria,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The government and opposition should reach an agreement in principle on how a transition period should take place in Syria. It should be based on common accord between the government and the opposition,” Lavrov said.

The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, welcomed the bilateral discussions on the Syrian crisis which are going to be held between the Russian and the US delegations in The Hague shortly. However Brahimi will not participate in this meeting. At the same time, he is “in constant contact with both the Russian and the U.S. authorities,” the United Nations said. Another meeting on further preparations of the “Geneva II” conference might be held in the near future but its date and place have not yet been set, it said.

The international conference called upon to launch a peace process in Syria will most likely take place in Geneva after August, Kerry said after talks with Lavrov in early July.

“We both agreed that that conference should happen sooner rather than later ... and obviously August is very difficult for Europeans and for others, so it may be somewhere thereafter, but that's being talked about,” Kerry said.

Moscow said earlier it expected the Syrian opposition to agree to attend the international conference on Syria without preconditions.

At their talks in Moscow on May 7, Lavrov and Kerry agreed to hold an international conference on the basis of the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012, in order to try to overcome the crisis in Syria.

Lavrov and Kerry said that their countries would encourage both the Syrian government and opposition groups to look for a political solution.

As the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Brahimi has consistently called on the U.S. and Russia to exercise leadership and work together to initiate a process to implement the Geneva Declaration of June 30, 2012.

That document - issued after a meeting in the Swiss city of the Action Group for Syria - lays out key steps in a process to end the violence. Among other items, it calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body, with full executive powers and made up by members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, as part of agreed principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition.

The U.N. estimates that some seven million people inside Syria are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance - nearly half of them children.

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