Saudi Arabia to host conference to unite Syrian opposition

Saudi Arabia will host conference in mid-December to unify Syrian opposition

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (centre R), US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) and foreign ministers attend a meeting in Vienna, Austria, November 14, 2015

Saudi Arabia will host a conference in mid-December to unify the Syrian opposition groups, Abdallah Al Mouallimi, the country's ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday.

Al Mouallimi said his country is “keen to gather the entire Syrian opposition and help them to (present) one voice and one unified position." on Al Arabiya TV.

He said the conference would include "all shades of the opposition."

Last Saturday, foreign ministers of 17 countries gathered in Vienna and agreed for a cease fire to take place in Syria and for the nation to hold elections within 18 months, elections will include groups opposing Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

Neither the Syrian regime, nor the opposition groups were present at the Vienna talks, but backers of both sides, from Russia and Iran to US and Saudi Arabia, as well as United Nations were present.

After the Vienna talks, the foreign ministers arranged a plan including formal talks between the government and opposition by January 1.

They failed to reach a consensus on which groups other than DAESH and Al Qaeda-affiliate Nusra Front will be identified as terrorist and excluded from the ceasefire.

Al Mouallimi said that Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria who represented the United Nations at the Vienna talks, told the UN General Assembly that Jordan will hold a meeting in mid-December, which will focus on defining which groups are part of the opposition and which groups will be considered terrorist organisations.

De Mistura also said that the opposition should look at the package, which calls for a transitional governing body in Syria with full executive powers, a new constitution and elections.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Thursday that “at that point, the United Nations is prepared to convene the parties in Geneva and begin the process of creating this transitional process for Syria itself."

"The Syrians themselves will negotiate that," he said, adding that US would be there to help and encourage the process.

"But it's Syrians who have to resolve and decide the future of Syria itself," Kerry said.

TRTWorld and agencies