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Arab countries urge Syrian opposition to take part in Geneva 2 conference

November 04, 2013, 4:54 UTC+3

The LAS foreign ministers stressed the need for “all the sides to be committed to the efforts to ensure favourable conditions for the start of the Geneva 2 conference”

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AP Photo/Amr Nabil

AP Photo/Amr Nabil

CAIRO, November 4 (Itar-Tass) - The League of Arab States (LAS) has called on the Syrian opposition to come up with a joint stance and take part in the Geneva 2 international peace conference, LAS said in a statement released on Monday on the results of an extraordinary meeting of the organisation’s Council of Foreign Ministers.

“This conference gives an opportunity to put an end to the crisis and stop the bloodshed,” it says. LAS appeals to all the factions of the Syrian opposition to respond to regional and international efforts to convene the Geneva 2 conference, develop a joint stance, uniting under the leadership of the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (NCR) and speed up formation of the delegation for negotiations.”

In addition, the Arab ministers expressed support for the NCR and its “negotiating position,” requiring the provision by the international community of guarantees of the “establishment of a transitional government, which will assume all the powers of the principles prescribed in the Geneva Communiqué.”

In particular, in the final communiqué the LAS Council outlined four main provisions that would be the ultimate goal of the negotiation process: the formation of a clearly specified timeframe and with the consent of all sides of the temporary governing body with full powers, including with regard to the armed forces and security agencies. Second, the creation of “a political system based on democratic and pluralistic principles, which would exclude discrimination among citizens for their convictions and guarantee in the future a peaceful transition of power.”

In addition, the LAS called for the adoption in the transition period of a new constitution by a nationwide referendum followed at the final stage by the parliamentary and presidential elections under the newly worked out fundamental law of the country. The Arab states also stressed the importance of observance by all the sides of the principle of “preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity, its sovereignty and independence,” urging to fix the Geneva 2 results through the UN security Council, to monitor their fulfilment and take deterrent measures against those who try to prevent it.”

The LAS foreign ministers stressed the need for “all the sides to be committed to the efforts to ensure favourable conditions for the start of the Geneva 2 conference” by ensuring access of humanitarian aid to all Syrian regions, in particular, those areas which are under siege and starving; release of political prisoners, especially women and children, the return of refugees and displaced persons.” All conflict sides, the communiqué says, “should assume the obligation on a comprehensive ceasefire and stopping acts of violence against civilians.”

NCR head Ahmad al-Jarba said earlier at the opening of the extraordinary LAS session that his coalition would not participate in the peace conference, if Iran is invited to it, and if the timeframe of President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation are not specified. “Our participation in Geneva 2 will be conditioned by a clear timeline of the removal from power of the Syrian ruling regime,” he said. “We also will not sit down at the negotiating table, if the occupant Iran is present there.”

According to al-Jarba, “the Syrian people are opposed to the brutal occupation” of the country. “We urge to declare Iran a state occupying the Syrian territory,” he stressed. Moreover, the NCR head demanded from the international community to make “a clear decision” on providing arms assistance to the Syrian people. “We promise that these weapons will not get into the wrong hands,” he pledged.

On November 9, a meeting of the leadership of the supported by the West National Coalition will be held in Istanbul at which its members are to make the final decision on participation in Geneva 2. In mid-October, the Syrian National Council - the largest emigrant and most irreconcilable opposition group, stated that it would not take part in the conference and threatened to secede from NCR if it sends it delegation to it.

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