Confusion over date set for Geneva II Syria peace talks


brahimi arab league chief

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said on Sunday that the peace talks aimed at ending the conflict in Syria would take place on November 23 in Geneva.

“I discussed the Syria file with Lakhdar Brahimi and it was decided that the Geneva meeting would take place on November 23 and arrangements are being made to prepare for this conference,” Elaraby told reporters in Cairo after a meeting with Brahimi, the international envoy for Syria.

But at the same news conference, Brahimi refused to publicly set a date for the conference, saying it would be announced after he concluded his tour.

“The date has not been officially set.” Brahimi stressed

A senior Syrian official said last week that the long-delayed conference was scheduled for November 23-24, but co-organisers Russia and the United States said no date had been set.

International efforts to stop the bloodshed in the 2-1/2 year conflict in Syria have stuttered, but a deal reached last month for Syria to get rid of its chemical weapons arsenal rekindled efforts to convene the conference, dubbed “Geneva 2”.

A deeply divided opposition is, however, reluctant to attend, and President Bashar al-Assad’s government said it would not consider any deal that required the president to step down.

Najib Ghadbian, the opposition coalition’s U.S. representative, said an important component of the coalition had decided against taking part, but said other members of the umbrella group could still decide to go, assuming Assad was not there.

No Syria meeting without “credible” opposition representation

Brahimi, who stressed there would be no preconditions to attending the peace talks, said on Sunday a conference could not be convened in the absence of “credible” opposition representation

“The conference will not convene without a credible opposition representing an important segment of the Syrian people opposed (to President Bashar al-Assad),” Brahimi told reporters in Cairo .