7:08 pm - Thursday February 21, 2019

Lebanon to join Geneva-II, Syrian opposition undecided

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Lebanon to join Geneva-II, Syrian opposition undecided
Lebanon to join Geneva-II, Syrian opposition undecided

Beirut/Cairo – Lebanon has confirmed it would join the Geneva II-preparatory meeting on the Syrian crisis, while the Syrian opposition coalition said it was still to decide.

Lebanon’s Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour Sunday confirmed Lebanon would accept an invitation to the conference of domestic and international parties aimed at resolving the Syrian conflict, Xinhua reported.

Mansour and Najla Riachi Assaker, Lebanon’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, would attend the meeting.

Mansour’s announcement came two days after UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman met in Beirut to discuss the proposed conference.

Brahimi said after the meeting that Lebanese officials were “in favour of being invited” and added that Lebanon has borne significant burdens that fell on its shoulders as a result of the situation in Syria.

While Lebanon said yes to the conference, the deeply fractured opposition of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) is split on the issue.

The coalition gas disagreed over the conditions for attending the conference and has demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down right away and not take part in a negotiated solution for the country’s future.

The Arab League has urged the opposition to participate in the meeting and form a delegation as soon as possible.

Talks in Geneva could not “go forward without the opposition”, and “the participation of the opposition is essential, necessary and important”, Brahimi said.

SNC chief Ahmed Al-Jarba said the opposition would not enter the Geneva talks unless there was a successful transfer of power in Syria within a specific timeframe.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Cairo that the US and its allies might differ over “tactics” on the Syrian conflict but they shared the goal of a handover of power.

The long-awaited Geneva II conference on Syria is aimed at bringing the government and the opposition to the negotiation table by the end of this month to hammer out a political solution to the country’s prolonged conflict.

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