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Syrian opposition undecided on Geneva talks

The vote on whether to attend the peace talks has been postponed until the middle of next week

Published: Updated:

Syrian opposition members have postponed a vote on whether they will attend or not a peace conference in Switzerland this month, according to the Associated Press.

The Syrian National Coalition was due to make a decision on Tuesday on whether it will take part or not in the so-called Geneva peace conference due to begin on Jan. 22 in Montreux, Switzerland.

But members of the coalition said that the vote has been postponed until at least the middle of next week due to disagreement over the issue.

The postponement of the vote whose outcome is uncertain adds to doubts about the conference whose prospects already look shaky.

Hadi al-Bahra, a member of the coalition's political committee, said the vote could happen as early as Jan. 15.

Many members of the coalition are angry that the government of President Bashar al-Assad has not respected the principles from an earlier peace conference that called for a transitional government in Syria, Bahra said.

In another development, Assad's government said the president will not surrender power and may run again for president later this year.

The possibility that Iran which a strong backer of the Assad government might take part in the peace talks have also sparked controversy within the coalition.

Iran did not receive an invitation sent on Monday by U.N. Secretary-General to attend the conference even though Ban Ki-moon favors inviting Iran, his spokesman said.

Abdulrahman Alhaj, a member of the Syrian National Council, said that sharp disagreement over attending the talks could fracture the coalition.

“If that happens, there won't be a Geneva conference,” Alhaj who is not a member of the coalition said.

“We need a credible, united opposition to go to Geneva,” Alhaj added.