Syria opposition calls for direct negotiations with Assad regime

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (C) poses for a group photo during a Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (C) poses for a group photo during a Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Syria opposition representatives meeting in the Saudi capital have called for direct and unconditional negotiations with the Syrian government that would lead to the launch of a transition period.

The opposition didn’t condition its participation in the U.N-based negotiations on the departure of President Bashar Assad from office.

However, in a final communique obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, they said a peaceful and unbiased transitional period will not be possible without Assad first leaving office.

It is the first time the opposition has called on the U.N. to arrange for direct talks with the government. It also signals a degree of flexibility on Assad’s role in the transition period.

Russia, the main backer of Assad, has been pushing for new political talks, saying “there is a real chance” to end the conflict. Moscow and opposition members it backs have demanded the launch of an “unconditional” process.

Associated Press