Syria opposition most likely to participate in Geneva talks

Syrian opposition groups' umbrella organisation High Negotiations Committee signals it will most likely attend upcoming Geneva peace talks

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (R) and Syria's Riad Hijab, chief coordinator of the main Western-backed Syrian opposition, shake hands after a meeting on the Syria crisis at the Quai d'Orsay ministry in Paris on March 4, 2016.

The main Syrian opposition council will go to talks that the United Nations aims to convene in Geneva "God willing" and wants an immediate start to negotiations on a transitional governing body, said a spokesman for the council on Monday.

"Our inclination is to go," Riad Nassan Agha, a member of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said, adding that violations of a cessation of hostilities agreement on the part of the Syrian regime and its allies had reduced in the last two days.

He said people would start arriving in Geneva on Friday, cautioning that the HNC hoped nothing would happen that would prevent it from going to the talks.

"We started to notice that the volume of violations has started to reduce in the last two days. We hope that in the coming days until Friday that the violations reach zero," he said.

"If these violations end this will create the favourable environment for the start of negotiations."

The war-torn country has been currently experimenting a fragile process of a cessation of hostilities since Feb. 27 following a major agreement brokered by US and Russia.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said last Thursday that Syria's cessation of hostilities is holding but remains fragile after six days in which incidents have been contained in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Latakia and Damascus.

De Mistura said that his office was working closely with Russia and the United States to investigate any fighting and "to quickly intervene in order to make sure that the parties on the ground defuse the situation."

The United Nations hopes the cessation of hostilities agreement, which is less binding than a formal ceasefire and was not directly signed by the Syrian warring sides, can precede a more formal ceasefire.

TRTWorld, Reuters