‘Mission of hope’ as Syria peace talks begin

Photo: ‘Mission of hope’ as Syria peace talks begin / Arab World

Syrian peace talks aiming at finding a political solution to the three-year long Syrian conflict are due to start on Wednesday in the Swiss town of Montreux Al Arabiya reported.

The U.N. Geneva II backed talks are set to bring on the same table representatives from Bashar al Assad government as well as the main opposition backed by the West.

Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary-General, said the Geneva II conference would be a "mission of hope," and that it is "unforgivable not to seize this opportunity" to put an end to the three-year long civil war.

The Syrian government, which agreed to attend the conference on Jan. 16, said it does not accept the opposition demand that Assad steps down.

Meanwhile, Syria's main opposition bloc, the Syrian National Coalition also affirmed that it will take part of the talks after the United Nations withdrew an invitation to Iran, a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad.

Many Coalition members were hesitant to attend a conference that has little chance of success and will burn the remaining credibility the group has with powerful rebels on the ground who reject the talks.

Around 40 International diplomats are due to attend the peace talks as they received invitations from the U.N. Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

On Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called upon all sides involved in the Syrian bloody conflict to "seize the chance" of peace, according to Agence France Presse.

"Both sides should seize chance to end the war," Hague wrote on Twitter.

In a similar development, the Vatican sent a delegation to the peace talks composed of Monsignor Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's representative to the United Nations and Monsignor Alberto Ortega Martin, an official from the Vatican's Secretariat of State, Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman told AFP.

Also on Tuesday, the U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to "discuss the issues of the conference", the Kremlin said.

In the eve of the conference, the situation in the war-torn country doesn't seem to calm down especially with the accusation by three former war crime international prosecutors that Assad's regime has been "industrial-scale killing" and torturing detainees.

It is the first time that the Syrian regime and the opposition will meet since the beginning of the civil war which killed more than 100.000 dead and left millions displaced.

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