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Geneva talks may "reduce external pressure” on Syrian authorities

February 11, 2014, 18:15 UTC+3 NEW YORK
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NEW YORK, February 11. /ITAR-TASS/. The intra-Syrian talks currently underway in Geneva may ease international pressure on President Bashar Assad’s government, a senior government minister told media.

Involvement in political process “reduces external pressure,” makes it possible for the Syrian government to “convey what’s really happening in Syria,” and puts off any renewed threat of military strikes, which is “our only benefit,” Syrian National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar told Bloomberg by phone from Damascus on Monday.

An international deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, mediated in September 2013, prevented a likely US-led military intervention in the Middle East country.

The process of disarmament in Syria was launched after hundreds of civilians died in a chemical attack made on a Damascus suburb in August 2013. The most dangerous of Syria’s chemical weapons are to be destroyed at sea by the end of March, and the rest by June 30, 2014.

Haidar also said the intra-Syrian talks can’t be called “reconciliation” and are doomed to failure unless representation of the opposition is expanded to include representatives of other forces. He added that the focus of Geneva discussions should first and foremost be on countering terrorism in Syria.

The parties to the Syrian conflict returned to the negotiating table on Monday, February 10, after the first round of the Geneva-2 conference, which ended January 31, failed to bring any substantive results.

Geneva-2 was organized by Russia and the United States and seeks to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis which has claimed over 100,000 lives and displaced millions since its start in 2011, according to UN statistics.

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