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Syrian opposition’s Moscow group skips Riyadh conference

November 22, 2017, 17:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Riyadh II conference that brought together the key Syrian opposition groups began its work on Nowember 22 and will last for two days

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Chairman of the Moscow group Qadri Jamil

Chairman of the Moscow group Qadri Jamil

© Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS

MOSCOW, November 22. /TASS/. The Moscow group did not travel to Riyadh to take part in the Syrian opposition conference, however, it is not ruling out possibly of joining its decisions if other participants abandon their radical approach, Chairman of the Moscow group Qadri Jamil told TASS on Wednesday.

"We are not taking part [in the conference - TASS], because we have reached no consensus on the final statement, which contains unacceptable conditions, which contradict the letter and spirit of UN Resolution 2254," Jamil said.

He explained that these disagreements concern the political fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "There is one clause there, a precondition, as usual, about the president’s resignation. We proposed to postpone this issue, because there is no agreed stance on it and enshrine this in the statement. Let everyone adhere to one’s own point of view," Jamil said, adding that the parties have an understanding on the remaining issues.

He added that an observer from the "Moscow" group, Alya Arafat, is attending the conference in Riyadh. "If there are changes in the stance of the extremist forces on the final statement, we will change our position and give our observer the authority to represent the group, and, if we have enough time, we will come," Jamil noted. "We are open to further dialogue and are ready to work together to form a single delegation."

Riyadh conference

The Riyadh II conference that brought together the key Syrian opposition groups began its work on Wednesday and will last for two days. Its participants are expected to discuss the formation of a single delegation and agree on a document to rely on while holding talks with the government delegation at the eighth round of peace talks in Geneva scheduled for November 28.

About 140 opposition members are taking part in the event. Of these, 22 are delegates from the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, 21 from the armed groups, 14 from the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCC, a leading internal opposition group) and 10 from the Cairo group. About 70 participants have independent delegates’ status.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Russian Presidential Envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, are participating in the consultations.

In the run-up to the conference, head of the opposition’s High Negotiation Committee (HNC) that purported to be the only Syrian opposition representative, Riyad Hijab and a group of the committee’s senior officials stepped down. They said they did not intend to give up demands for Assad’s resignation. However, in spite of these moves, the clause stating that the Syrian president has no role in the country’s future was added to the conference’s draft final statement.

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