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UN: issue on referendum on Geneva 2 should be decided by Syrian sides through talks

January 08, 2014, 1:47 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
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UNITED NATIONS, January 08, 1:10 /ITAR-TASS/. Damascus’ proposal to hold a nationwide referendum on the results of the peace conference on Syria (Geneva 2) should be considered in the course of negotiations with the opposition, UN Secretary-General’s deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s one of the issues to be discussed by the sides,” he said. Farhan Haq also declined to comment on the idea itself to hold a referendum on the results of the Geneva 2 conference. “We’re not going to promote any point of view before the conference,” said the UN official. According to him, first it is necessary to get the conflict sides at the negotiating table, and they themselves should decide how to implement that or other arrangements.

Earlier on Tuesday, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi, said at a news conference in Damascus that any document adopted on the results of the negotiations in Geneva “will not be effective unless it is approved by the Syrian people in a nationwide referendum.”

The inter-Syrian negotiations will begin at an international conference that will be held in Montreux, Switzerland, on January 22. A day later, Damascus and the opposition will continue to seek ways to resolve the conflict with the participation of international mediators in Geneva. On Monday, the United Nations announced that invitations to the forum had been sent.

Farhan Haq confirmed on Tuesday that 30 countries (aside from Syria), including permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, Britain, China, France and the United States) and Syria’s neighbouring countries and other international players, had been invited to the forum. Iran is not among them - its role in the Syrian settlement will be determined at a meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris on January 13.

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