Sun Jan 24, 2016 1:44PM
A file photo of a session of the UN Security Council
A senior official in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ruling party has said the government will not make any new concessions in the upcoming Geneva peace talks.
“We will not make new concessions at [the] Geneva peace talks,” the assistant regional secretary of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party, Hilal al-Hilal, said on Sunday.
The comments come ahead of talks planned to start in the Swiss city on January 25.
The Geneva talks, which are likely to be delayed, are part of an 18-month timetable approved unanimously last December by the United Nations Security Council to resolve the Syria conflict.
The UNSC Resolution 2254 endorses a roadmap for a peace process in Syria.
The resolution calls for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and the formation of a “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian” government within six months and UN-supervised “free and fair elections” within 18 months.
The Syrian government has announced its readiness to participate in the negotiations but stressed that Damascus should be provided with a list of terrorist groups who are barred from the meeting and also the names of Syrian opposition figures expected to join the talks.
The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has hinted that foreign-back opposition groups in Syria who enjoy support from major governments including France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are deliberately undermining ongoing efforts for a political solution in Syria, according to a report by the Foreign Policy magazine.
“The truth is that the parties remain locked in fixed positions and a ‘zero-sum’ game,” de Mistura told a closed-door briefing to the 15-nation UN Security Council meeting on January 18, adding, “Parties disagree not only on substance, but … they also question that the UN could or should exercise its discretion in ‘finalizing’ the opposition list.”
Damascus has been fighting foreign-backed militant groups in the country since 2011.
The war in Syria has so far claimed the lives of over 260,000 people and displaced nearly half of population.