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Syria opposition refuses to attend peace talks if Assad participates

Xinhua [1]
May 25, 2013

Members of Syria’s opposition coalition entered the second day of talks in Turkey’s Istanbul on Friday, with a decision yet to made over whether to participate in the upcoming Geneva conference aimed at ending the two-year-old Syrian crisis.

Earlier Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the Syrian government had agreed in principle to attend the Geneva international conference in June, which is initiated by Russia and the United States.

Following the news, Louay Safi, spokesman of the largely foreign-based Syrian National Council (SNC), said that “We want Russia to make it very clear that they are not going to support ( Syrian President Bashar al-)Assad and his main aids. Only after that, we will be very close to a political solution.”

The SNC spokesman expressed doubts about the Syrian government’ s goodwill. “The statement is still not very clear. First, we would like to hear from the spokesman of the Syrian government about why is Russia speaking on behalf of Syria,” Safi said.

The SNC also intended to elect their new president in Istanbul, as the previous leader Moaz al-Khatib resigned in March. According to the schedule, the Syrian opposition’s meeting in Istanbul lasts from Thursday to Saturday.