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Diplomat urges Syrian opposition to give up demands for Assad’s immediate resignation

Radical demands by some faction of the opposition, primarily those concerning Assad’s resignation, earlier hindered progress at the Geneva talks

MOSCOW, November 20. /TASS/. The key positions the Syrian opposition should adhere to at the talks are the rejection of the demand for Assad’s immediate resignation, support for the de-escalation zones and the war on terror, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva, Alexey Borodavkin, said in an interview with Izvestia.

"Essentially, some key positions the opposition should adhere to at the talks are visible," the diplomat said. "These are support for the cessation of hostilities and the de-escalation zones, commitment to the fight against ISIL (former name of the Islamic State terror group outlawed in Russia - TASS) and the Jabhat al-Nusra (terror group, outlawed in Russia - TASS), renunciation of the demand for Assad’s immediate resignation and willingness to hold talks with the Syrian government on the aspects of the political reform under UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (the resolution outlining the key principles for the Syrian settlement - TASS)."

Borodavkin noted that radical demands by some part of the opposition, primarily those concerning Assad’s resignation, earlier hindered progress at the Geneva talks. Such ultimatum-like approaches were backed by some Western and Middle Eastern countries, he added. However, the situation has changed recently.

"Our partners from among ‘Syria’s friends’ are gradually getting back to reality, they are reviewing their unrealistic approaches," he explained. "This is primarily due to the fact that the Syrian armed forces backed by Russia’s Aerospace Forces have actually defeated ISIL in Syria winning major victories at Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and Abu Kamal."

Geneva process

On November 28, another round of the UN-brokered intra-Syrian negotiations will kick off in Geneva. The Geneva process has continued since the beginning of 2016, but it has not yielded tanbigle results yet. The most substantial demands come from the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which describes itself as the only opposition representative. The HNC’s key demand is Assad’s resignation, without which, the committee says, it is impossible to launch the political transition process.

In the run-up to the Geneva round, Riyadh will host a meeting of Syria’s major opposition groups on November 22-24. It is expected that its objective will be forming the single opposition delegation or, at least, coordinating stances to go over to the direct negotiations with the government in Geneva.

During the previous consultations in August, their participants were received at the Saudi Foreign Ministry. The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that Riyadh’s efforts to work with the Syrian opposition were useful.