Syrian peace talks may be delayed, says Kerry

US Secretary of State Kerry says UN-brokered Syrian peace talks may be delayed for one or two days due to logistical reasons

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the Syria peace talks may be delayed by "a day or two" for logistical reasons, but the process will begin roughly on time.

Kerry said that the delay would be caused due to sending out invitations to participants.

Kerry met earlier with the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who is to convene the talks between the Syrian government and the opposition on Monday in Geneva.

"When you say a delay, it may be a day or two for invitations but there is not going to be a fundamental delay," Kerry told reporters just before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum.

"The process will begin on the 25th and they will get together and see where we are,” he added.

The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Mistura had stated previously that the Syria peace talks might not start as planned on January 25 in Geneva, but that the major parties should continue diplomatic pressure on the warring factions to attend the meeting.

"I believe we can start talks, perhaps not on the 25th (of January), but we need to maintain the pressure and the momentum," Staffan de Mistura said.

Kerry met with the key part of Syrian peace talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday in Zurich to make it clear that the Syrian opposition groups would be eligible to attend the talks.

The negotiations are the first step in a UN-led 18-month political transition plan for Syria aimed at ending the nearly five-year-long civil war.

The process of choosing groups to attend the UN-led negotiations has threatened to delay the talks.

Russia and Iran, which back Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, have immense differences with Saudi Arabia, other Arab states, the United States and the Europe Union over which opposition groups should be considered terrorists.

One dispute is over the groups Ahrar al Sham and Jaish al Islam.

The Russian Federation and Syrian regime consider the groups as terrorists but the United States, Saudi Arabia and others view them as legitimate opposition groups.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday that only three groups are now on the terrorist list, including DAESH, Al Qaeda and its extension Al Nusra Front.

Those groups had been identified as terrorist organisations by the Assad regime and Russia before the start of the international process to get the peace talks started.

TRTWorld and agencies