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Diplomats Fail To Set Date For Syria Talks

  • RFE/RL

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria (file photo)

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria (file photo)

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, said that there was still no set date for Syrian peace talks and expressed the hope they would start before the end of this year.

"We were hoping that we'd be in a position to announce a date [for Syrian peace talks] today, unfortunately we're not," he told reporters in Geneva after a day of meetings with diplomats. He said diplomats "are still striving to see if we can have the conference before the end of this year."

Brahimi met earlier in the day with Russian deputy foreign ministers Gennady Gatilov and Mikhail Bogdanov, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, and U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.

The closed-door meeting was widened later to include envoys from the other three UN Security Council members: China, France, and Britain.

Representatives from Syria's neighbors -- Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey -- as well as the Arab League, also took part.

Russian envoy Gatilov told Russian media after the meeting that part of the failure to agree on a date for the talks stemmed from a U.S. refusal to include Iran in the negotiations, despite Russia's insistence Tehran be included.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier on November 5 in Moscow that all those with influence in Syria should be invited to attend the planned Geneva talks, dubbed Geneva 2. "This includes pretty much all the countries of the Persian Gulf. This includes not only Arab countries, but also Iran," Lavrov said

Lavrov spoke after Ahmad Jarba, the chief of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, said his group would not attend Geneva 2 if Tehran took part.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that both the Assad regime and the opposition should attend Geneva 2.

Kerry, speaking in Warsaw, said the purpose of Geneva 2 would be to implement plans for a transitional government in Syria that were tentatively agreed upon at the Geneva 1 conference last year.

An earlier round of Geneva talks left open the question of whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power.

The Syrian opposition has been insisting that Assad and his regime had no place in any future transitional government.

However, Damascus has reiterated that Assad will not give up power, casting doubt on the political transition that is the main focus of the proposed Geneva 2 conference.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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