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Syria ready to discuss any issues with opposition - deputy foreign minister

Syrian delegation is ready to negotiate the creation of a transition governing body, exchange of prisoners, ceasefire and humanitarian corridors in Homs and Damascus

GENEVA, January 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Syria’s government delegation is ready to discuss any issues, including the exchange of prisoners and the openness of humanitarian corridors, with the opposition, Syria’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said.

“We’re ready to discuss any issues - the exchange of prisoners, ceasefire and humanitarian corridors. I mean in Holm and Damascus,” the Syrian diplomat said. “We’re ready to discuss the creation of a transition governing body in Syria,” the deputy minister added.

“We arrived here for the sake of peace. The opposition delegation should be representative,” Mekdad said.

“France is unleashing a war in Syria”

Syria wants to say France “is unleashing a war in Syria”, Syria’s First Deputy Foreign Minister noted.

“I’d like to attract your attention to the fact that France is unleashing a war in Syria,” Mekdad said.

“We arrived at the Geneva II Peace Conference with friendly intentions. We heard the French foreign minister, the U.S. secretary of State and the British foreign secretary to say martial words,” he said.

Opposition leader al-Jarba not to attend talks

The government delegation sees no problem head of the National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces Ahmed al-Jarba will not attend the inter-Syrian talks, Mekdad said.

The departure of Syrian opposition leader Ahmed al-Jarba has not been sudden for Russian representatives, presidential special envoy for the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Friday.

“The departure wasn’t sudden. We heard American partners and other partners to say al-Jarba to lead the opposition delegation. The talks should be held at the level of deputies delegation head, i.e. at the expert level. So, we knew that al-Jarba would lead the opposition delegation in Geneva,” the Russian diplomat said.

Commenting on the format of the Geneva talks, the diplomat said, “The first stage of the talks will last for a week. Then the delegations may return to Damascus and report the leadership on the results. Afterwards they return back.”

“Our representatives, particularly Russian permanent representative to the UN and other international organizations Alexei Borodavkin, stayed in Switzerland. There are also our experts who will maintain contacts with Brahimi and other delegations,” he said.