Beirut: On Wednesday, Syria’s opposition adjourned a meeting in Riyadh without deciding whether to attend peace talks in Geneva planned for Friday, saying it was waiting for a United Nations (UN) response to its demands. The High Negotiations Committee, which represents a range of Syrian political and armed opposition groups, has repeatedly said the Syrian government and its allies must halt bombardments and lift blockades of besieged areas before it will join any talks.
Preparations for the talks, already postponed from Monday to Friday, have been beset by problems, including a dispute over who should represent the opposition. Asaad al-Zoubi, an HNC member, told Saudi TV channel Al Ikhbariya there were “Russian and Iranian obstacles” that had prevented talks going ahead, referring to President Bashar al-Assad’s main allies.
Zoubi said, “The aim of the regime and its supporters is only to secure the military solution”. Damascus, Russia and Iran were creating obstacles to ensure the talks did not happen, he said. Syrian rebel groups have previously said they hold the Syrian government and Russia responsible for any failure of talks. Zoubi also said, “We are waiting for the response of (U.N. envoy Staffan) de Mistura first, and then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which is the most important … if it is positive maybe there will be an agreement to go”.
An HNC spokesman, Salim al-Muslat, separately said the body would meet again at 10:00 a.m. in Riyadh on Thursday, Al Arabiya al-Hadath news channel reporte