UN Syria Envoy Urges Opposition to Unite Before Talks

UN Syria Envoy Urges Opposition to Unite Before TalksUN Syria Envoy Urges Opposition to Unite Before Talks

The United Nations envoy for Syria urged disparate Syrian opposition groups at a meeting hosted in the Saudi capital Wednesday to come up with a united front ahead of another round of peace talks in Geneva later this month.

Staffan de Mistura spoke at the opening of the three-day meeting for the Syrian opposition in Riyadh, where they are expected to come up with a unified delegation and vision ahead of the Geneva talks on Nov.28. He also called for humanitarian assistance to reach besieged areas of Syria, AP reported.

The meeting, however, has already been marred with disagreements. The notoriously fragmented opposition is divided by visions of a future role for the incumbent Syrian President Bashar Assad, the length of a transitional period as well as the constitution that will see the country move toward elections.

Around 30 various opposition delegations are attending the meeting.

The conflict in Syria, now in its sixth year, has all but been frozen amid a series of ceasefires. A political solution has long been elusive.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in opening remarks that the opposition meeting comes amid international consensus to reach a resolution.

“There is no resolution to the crisis without Syrian consensus that achieves the demands of the Syrian people and ends their suffering,” al-Jubeir said, adding that a resolution must be based on UN resolutions.

Russia, which has welcomed the Saudi efforts to unify the opposition, is also hosting a meeting expected to bring the opposition and Syrian government together in early December.

Some of the opposition delegations in Riyadh are backed by Persian Gulf Arab regimes, who had sided with the anti-Assad rebellion, while others have been backed by Russia. Another opposition group is backed by Egypt, which has kept contacts with the Syrian government.

The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news service said some members of the Russia-backed delegation withdrew from the meeting. A member of the delegation Qadri Jamil said they withdrew to object other delegations putting conditions on the talks, including limiting a future role for Assad. The Russia-backed opposition is promoting political reform under Assad’s rule.


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