Geneva talks aim to agree Syria peace conference date

UNITED NATIONS- US, Russian and UN envoys will meet in Geneva on Monday aiming to pin down a date for an international conference on the Syria conflict, a UN spokesman said Friday.
Diplomats say UN leader Ban Ki-moon should announce a date after the Geneva talks for a peace conference bringing together government and opposition rebels for the first time.

UN-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi and UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman will meet with Russian deputy foreign ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov and US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman in Geneva on Monday.
"The point of the meeting on Monday is to take stock of where we stand. We'll see at that point what we can say about arrangements," UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.
The United Nations, Russia and United States have been struggling for months to get a conference organized as the war worsens. Now 32 months old, the conflict has left well over 100,000 dead, according to the UN.
Ban, Brahimi and other international officials "have been working very hard with a variety of interlocutors, trying to lock down a conference and we will see what progress we can make," Haq added.
Brahimi was "scheduled" to hold talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who is in Geneva for separate talks on the Iran nuclear crisis, Haq said.
Russia and the United States have been pressing since May for the followup to a Geneva meeting in June, 2012 when the international powers agreed a declaration stating that there must be a transitional government in Syria.
The opposition and government have agreed to attend, but questions remain about who will represent them. Whether Iran and other key players such as Saudi Arabia take part will also be discussed on Monday, officials said.
UN leader Ban is aiming for a conference in mid-December. But some diplomats say the talks may not be possible this year.
The date will be announced at the Geneva meeting or immediately after, diplomats said. "It may slip into January but it will be announced," said one UN diplomat.

Saturday, November 23rd 2013

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