GENEVA, January 24. /ITAR-TASS/. The schedule of the Geneva II international peace conference on Syria currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland, has been changed.
Intra-Syrian talks were to have kicked off on Friday in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, the headquarters of the United Nations’ European office. The parties were supposed to be in different rooms and to be holding talks through UN and Arab League special Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.
However, the format that seemed to have been agreed Thursday was amended: the Syrian government delegation led by Foreign Minister Walid Muallem started talks with Brahimi at about 11 a.m. local time (10:00 GMT), and the meeting has already ended. The opposition delegation is expected for talks with Brahimi in the Palace of Nations at 4 p.m. local time (15:00 GMT).
The negotiating team was surprised why the opposition delegation had not arrived in due time. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s adviser Buseina Shaaban said it was evident that the opposition was not ready for dialogue.
“We planned to hold talks, but separate meetings with the UN and Arab League special envoy will take place instead,” she said.
Muallem said at the meeting with Brahimi that the delegation representing the Syrian opposition is not ready for serious talks.
After consultations with Syrian delegations, Brahimi is expected to give a news conference.
Syrian opposition representatives have told Western reporters they will not start talks with the Syrian government delegation until official Damascus agrees to the terms of the June 30, 2012 Geneva Communique, that in particular envisions “the establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place.”
The Geneva-2 international peace conference on Syria kicked off on January 22 in Montreux, Switzerland, and continues in Geneva. It seeks to find ways out of the Syrian crisis, which has claimed over 100,000 lives and displaced millions since its start in 2011. The conference is expected to be followed by direct talks between the Syrian government and opposition.