Middle East

Syrian opposition to boycott Sochi peace talks

Syrian opposition to boycott Sochi peace talks

Vienna: A committee representing the largest faction of Syria’s armed opposition has announced here in Austria that it would not participate in next week’s Syrian peace conference in Sochi, Russia.

“The decision has been made to not go to Sochi,” a spokesperson for the opposition High Negotiations Committee told Efe on Friday following the conclusion of the ninth round on UN-sponsored talks on Syria.

The UN-sponsored talks concluded without significant progress.

The opposition leaders and officials of the government in Damascus, who spent two days in Vienna, did not meet face-to-face, instead exchanged proposals via UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Representatives of President Bashar al Assad’s government accused the US and Saudi Arabia of seeking to sabotage any efforts toward a political solution in Syria, where some 500,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011.

De Mistura told reporters that Secretary General Antonio Guterres would decide whether the UN would takes part in next week’s Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi.

The main item on the agenda in Sochi would be the creation of a commission to draft a new constitution for Syria, a Russian official said.

Besides the Assad government and the main elements of the Syrian opposition, Russia has invited the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, China, France and Britain – as well as the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to send delegates to the conference.

–IANS