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Syrian opposition ready to begin talks in Geneva without preconditions

January 31, 2016, 2:27 UTC+3 GENEVA

According to him, the delegation will demand providing humanitarian access to Syrian cities, releasing prisoners and rendering humanitarian assistance

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GENEVA, January 31. / TASS /. The Syrian opposition is ready to begin the negotiations in Geneva without any preconditions, Salem al-Muslad, a spokesman for the delegation of the Supreme Negotiating Committee supported by Riyadh that has arrived in Switzerland has told reporters.

According to him, the delegation will demand providing humanitarian access to Syrian cities, releasing prisoners and rendering humanitarian assistance. He noted though that those "were not preconditions."

"These are not our preconditions. We have come here, and we are ready to begin these talks, but are also here to make sure that Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council is implemented," al-Muslad said.

"We are ready to negotiate," he said. "We came here to make the process a success."

Al-Muslad also asked the international community to exert pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to meet the opposition’s requirements.

According to al-Muslad, a meeting between the opposition and UN Secretary-General’s envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is scheduled for Sunday. Answering a question on whether opposition members are ready to meet with the government delegation, Salem al-Muslad said, "We are ready to meet if there is "positive progress." At the current stage the talks that got underway in Geneva on January 29 are considered to be indirect, with de Mistura acting as a mediator between the delegations.

Representative of Jaish al-Islam may come to Geneva, Ahrar al-Sham not expected

A representative of the Jaish al-Islam group may arrive in Geneva for Syria talks, representative of the opposition delegation Riyad Naasan Agha said answering a question from a TASS correspondent.

"He did not come with us, but we are waiting for him," he said.

According to him, representatives of the Ahrar al-Sham group will not come to Geneva. "But this is not our order. Perhaps, they cannot come, because they see no hope in the negotiations," he said. Earlier reports said that representatives of Ahrar al-Sham could come to Geneva.

In Russia both groups are considered to be terrorist, that is why Moscow is opposed to their participation in the Geneva talks. During his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Zurich on January 20 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented evidence of these groups’ terrorist nature.

"The first of these groups is known for repeatedly shelling residential quarters of Damascus and the Russian Embassy. Ahrar al-Sham is the direct offshoot of al Qaeda," Lavrov said. "The process of identifying terrorist organizations within the framework of the International Syria Support Group continues, and we hope that these arguments will be taken into consideration by our colleagues," Lavrov said.

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