Brahimi: no peace talks without Syrian opposition

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U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Friday that the proposed international conference aimed to end the 32-month Syrian conflict will not take place without the participation of the opposition.

“If the opposition does not participate there will be no Geneva conference,” Agence France-Presse quoted Brahimi as saying at a news conference in Damascus before returning to Beirut as part of a regional tour to try to garner support for the U.S. and Russian backed peace initiative.

“The participation of the opposition is essential, necessary and important,” he added.

He said Geneva II was intended to “help the Syrians and resolve their problems.”

Brahimi, who hopes to set a date for the conference as soon as possible, said the Syrian government will be attending the conference but there is no confirmation about the opposition’s participation.

“The opposition, whether the National Coalition or others, are trying to find a way to be represented,” he said, referring to the main opposition bloc.

The Syrian National Coalition said it won’t participate if President Bashar al-Assad stays in power.

Brahimi also said that what has been agreed upon in Geneva I must be fulfilled in order to go to the next round of peace talks. Geneva I stated that there should be a transitional government in Syria.

As he continuously prepares for Geneva II, Brahimi said he will be meeting with U.S. and Russian envoys in the Swiss city.

He urged countries not to allow arming of both sides of the conflict, emphasizing that there is no military solution for the civil war in Syria.

“There are some very, very serious efforts being developed everywhere to try and make this conference possible, but we will say it happens only when it happens,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

(With AFP and Reuters)