Syria says it won't give up power in
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[November 27, 2013]
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The Syrian
government said Wednesday it will participate in U.N.-sponsored peace
talks aimed at ending the country's civil war, but insisted that it is
not going to the conference to hand over power.
The United Nations on Monday announced that the long-delayed peace
talks will begin Jan. 22 in Geneva. The meeting, which would be the
first face-to-face talks between the President Bashar Assad's
government and its opponents since the Syrian war began, has raised
hopes that a resolution to a conflict that activists say has killed
more than 120,000 people could be within reach.
But huge hurdles remain, including a decision on the full list of
participants. The main Western-backed Syrian opposition group has
said it is ready to attend, but wants the government to establish
humanitarian corridors and release political prisoners as a
confidence-building measure before it makes a final decision.
In a statement Wednesday, Syria's Foreign Ministry confirmed the
government will attend, saying Assad will send an official
delegation to the Geneva conference. The ministry stressed that the
representatives "will be going to Geneva not to hand over power to
anyone" but to meet with those "who support a political solution for
The Syrian opposition and its Western supporters insist that Assad
cannot be part of a transitional government.
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In a jab at Britain and France, the Foreign Ministry said that if
Paris and London "insist on holding fast to these illusions" that
there is no place for Assad in a transitional period, then "there is
no need for them to attend Geneva 2."
"Our people will not allow anyone to steal their right to decide
their future and leadership and the main goal of the Geneva
conference is to fulfill the interests of the Syrian people alone,
and not those who shed their blood," the statement said.
Press; ALBERT AJI]
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