Syria Peace Talks Agenda Outlined

Syria Peace Talks Agenda Outlined

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif outlined the agenda of the next round of international talks on Syria in Vienna, scheduled for November 14, aimed at finding a political solution to the over four-year conflict gripping the Arab country.
Speaking in a joint press conference with his Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders in Tehran on Monday, Zarif said, "Two important subjects are on the agenda: First, deciding which groups [fighting in Syria] must be designated terrorists. To us, it is clear which groups are terrorists. Second, agreeing on how to proceed."
He stressed that it is up to the Syrian people to determine their country's future, ISNA reported.
"To this end, we are just facilitators and not decision-makers," he said.
Attendees will include representatives from 18 countries, namely Iran, Russia, the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and the first-time participant Australia.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, and Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief, will also be among those sitting at the negotiating table.
De Mistura has arranged a meeting between the Syrian government and opposition groups alongside the peace talks.
The last round of talks was held on October 30 at the level of foreign ministers and their deputies.

***Level of Participation Undecided
The peace conference coincides with President Hassan Rouhani's trip to Italy. Zarif, likely to accompany the president, told Fars News Agency on Tuesday that the level of participation in the talks has not been decided.
"As we said earlier, the decision in this regard rests with the Supreme National Security Council. The Foreign Ministry is representing the SNSC in the meeting," he said.
Ali Shamkhani, the council's secretary, said Iran will defend its longstanding strategy to protect the rights of the Syrian people at the Vienna meeting.
"Iran's strategy on regional problems and the Syria [crisis], which have been imposed on the region [from outside], has revolved around efforts to find political solutions," IRNA quoted him as saying at a news conference in Tehran on Tuesday.
At the end of the previous round, participants issued a joint statement, which comprised nine articles.

***Joint Statement

The statement said following the 2012 Geneva Communiqué and UN Security Council Resolution 2118, participants invited the UN to convene representatives of the government of Syria and the Syrian opposition for a political process leading to a credible, inclusive governance, followed by a new constitution and elections.
"These elections must be administered under the UN supervision to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, free and fair, with all Syrians, including the diaspora, eligible to participate," it said.
The statement also said during the process of transition, government institutions will "remain intact".  
Parties to the talks called for a nationwide truce along with efforts to help advance the process of political transition.
The statement said, "The participants together with the United Nations will explore modalities for, and implementation of, a nationwide ceasefire to be initiated on a certain date and in parallel with this renewed political process."
No timetable was agreed for the transition of power from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as part of a political process to end the conflict.
Assad's role has been a source of contention between his allies and foes in efforts to settle the Syria conflict.
While western countries and their allies seek to oust him as part of any peace deal, Iran and Russia maintain that it is up to the Syrian people to decide.

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