Syrian opposition to boycott Sochi peace talks

Posted January 27, 2018

The 9th round of UN-mediated talks between Syria's warring factions came to an end in Austria's capital Vienna on Friday with no tangible progress.

Before the meeting in Vienna, he reiterated that any political initiative of worldwide actors should be evaluated for their ability to contribute to the political process of inter Syria negotiations in Geneva, with the support of the UN.

Moscow says the goal of the Sochi talks is to "efficiently" sustain the UN-sponsored talks with concrete "results".

Vienna, Jan 27 The main Syrian opposition group said it will announce today whether it will attend a "peace congress" in Russian Federation on January 30 that is viewed with unease by Western countries.

Hours earlier, United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura ended a ninth round of UN-sponsored talks in Vienna, with no sign of progress toward a peace deal.

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Speaking to reporters in Vienna early Saturday morning on 27 January, de Mistura assessed that it is understood that any Constitutional Committee would at the very least comprise Government, Opposition representatives in the intra-Syrian talks, Syrian experts, civil society, independents, tribal leaders and women.

"I share the huge frustration of millions of Syrians inside and outside the country at the lack of a political settlement to date", he said.

Hariri said the decision not to attend was made after a vote among the opposition groups that form the delegation and that he hoped the Sochi meeting would still prove useful.

Yahya al-Aridi, a spokesman for the opposition delegation at the Vienna talks on Syria, said Russian Federation had not provided the necessary commitment and that the Sochi conference was aimed at undermining the UN-led efforts.

He stressed the legitimacy of the UN-led talks over Russia's parallel peace push, however, saying firmly that a political transition for Syria "is to be reached in the UN-led Geneva process".

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Critics of the Sochi talks, which are backed by Turkey and Iran, accuse Russian Federation of trying to hijack the Syrian peace process from the United Nations and come up with a result that favors the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Haid Haid, a consulting research fellow at Chatham House think-tank, said Russia's long-term strategic interests were at play in Sochi. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will also attend.

"For the Russians to take this role, they have to do what the Americans were not able to do" - find a solution in Syria, he said.

The UN chief said "access for the United Nations and its partners to those people living in besieged and hard-to-reach locations remained a critical concern".

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