Jordan to host ‘Friends of Syria’ next week, ministry says

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Jordan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday Amman will host a meeting of the so-called “Friends of Syria” group next week to discuss latest developments in Syria’s civil war.

“The foreign ministers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, the United States, Britain, France, Turkey, Germany and Italy will hold a meeting in Amman in mid-next week,” ministry spokeswoman Sabah Rafei told AFP.

“This meeting will follow up on previous meetings in Istanbul and Abu Dhabi to discuss the unfortunate events in Syria and coordinate positions in line with the recent U.S.-Russian agreement to revive the political path to tackle the crisis.”

Washington and Moscow have proposed a peace conference between the Syrian regime and the opposition in the coming weeks to find a political solution to the country’s civil war.

But France warned on Tuesday that the proposed foreign-backed peace conference would be “very difficult” to organize.

A diplomatic source said a meeting of top officials from the United States, France and Britain will take place on Thursday, with Russia and China joining the talks a day later. It is still unknown where these talks will be held.

At a meeting late Monday in Abu Dhabi, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as that of Turkey -- all supporters of the Syrian opposition -- insisted that President Bashar al-Assad should have no role in the future of Syria.

In a statement after talks among the pro-opposition “Friends of Syria” meeting group in Istanbul last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington will double its assistance to the Syrian opposition to $250 million and expand its non-lethal military supplies to rebel fighters.

On Tuesday during a visit to Stockholm Kerry said that Syria’s opposition will receive additional assistance if Assad refuses to attend the peace conference proposed by the United States and Russia.

Top diplomats from the 11-nation core group have also warned Assad that foreign support for the opposition would grow if he continued to rebuff efforts to find a political solution to Syria’s crisis.

The conflict in Syria has now killed at least 80,000 people, according to activists.