Syria peace conference slated for mid-November
September 28, 2013 - 9:16:08 am
UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Friday that long-sought peace talks aimed at bringing a political transition to Syria are tentatively planned for November.
"We are aiming for a conference in mid-November," Ban told reporters after the UN Security Council adopted a historic resolution to rein in Syria's chemical weapons.
He added that UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi would carry out the preparatory work needed in the weeks ahead to bring together the opposition and the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"All violence must end. All the guns must fall silent," Ban stressed as he hailed the "historic resolution" on Assad's chemical weapons stockpile, stressing it was not "a license to kill" with conventional arms.
"As we mark this important step we must never forget that the catalogue of horrors in Syria continues with bombs and tanks, grenades and guns."
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said his government had been ready to go to the Geneva talks for some time.
"The Syrian delegation a year ago gave the Russians the name of the delegation and the composition of the delegation," he told reporters, refusing to reveal who would head the regime's side.
And while he said the resolution on chemical weapons marked a "positive endeavor," he added "it is regrettable that some delegations are already beginning to provide a self-inflicted negative interpretation in order to derail it from its lofty purposes."
He also lambasted other countries, singling out nations such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Britain and the United States, which he said were pouring weapons into his country.
"If you want to go to Geneva II, those who sponsor the terrorist groups, those who are spending billions of dollars on the terrorist groups should refrain from doing so, so that everybody will go with this diplomatic ... spirit," Jaafari said.
"You cannot continue sending weapons, and collecting terrorists from all over world and sending them to Syria under the name of jihad, and then pretend that you are working for peace," he added.
"Those governments who are deeply involved in the bloodshed of the Syrian people should stop and refrain."
A first peace conference was held in June 2012 and led to a six-point ceasefire call, which has never been implemented.
Renewed efforts for a follow up conference launched in May this year by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have stumbled due to divisions in the Syrian opposition and the international community over who should take part.
Ban will start contacts with his Syria peace envoy Brahimi next week on setting the firm date, as well as the guest list, diplomats said.
The 2012 conference among the major powers agreed that there should be a transitional government in Syria with full executive powers.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said after the adoption of the resolution that the international community must now step up efforts to help those caught up in a humanitarian crisis.
"It is important now for us also to unite on the political process," he said.
But he warned Britain was not quite ready to accept Iran -- one of the Syrian regime's main allies -- at the negotiating table in Geneva.
He said he had told the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during the UN meetings this week that "it is time for Iran to embrace the outcome of Geneva 1."
Iran had "to agree with all the rest of us, with everybody on the Security Council ... that we should be setting out for a transition in Syria with the creation of a transitional government with full executive authority."
"If Iran were able to agree to that, then it's easier for the rest of us to be able to discuss these matters to include Iran," Hague added. (AFP)