Syrian opposition want Geneva talks on political transition

"The opposition factions that took part in the [first] Astana negotiations have been invited to the talks taking place in the Kazakh capital over the next two days", said Liwa Shuhada al-Islam representative Said Naqrash.

The focus of the talks in Astana is a partial cease-fire that went into effect at the end of December.

"It is expected that delegations would arrive in Geneva on or about 20 February to enable prior consultations with the Special Envoy and his team before the formal start of intra-Syrian negotiations planned for 23 February 2017", the statement added.

The global meeting began on January 23 with the participation of a number of delegations, including armed opposition, Damascus, Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

Delegations of the Damascus government and the rebels who attended the previous round of Astana talks refused to negotiate directly with each other or sign any documents at the time.

The main Syrian opposition body said on Wednesday it wanted face-to-face negotiations with the Damascus government about a political transition at the Geneva talks.

The Geneva talks scheduled for February 23 are expected to be wider-ranging and focus on key issues such as the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Jordan will also be represented by a "high level delegation", government spokesman Mohamed Momani said.

Turkey, which has been a major supporter of the rebellion against Assad, has - with Russian Federation and Iran - brokered a shaky ceasefire.

United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura - who had also been invited and attended the previous Astana meeting in January - said he would not attend the talks and Turkey also sent a lower-level delegation than before.

  • Elsie Buchanan