Syrian opposition agrees to attend international peace talks

President of the Syrian National Coalition Ahmad Al-Jarba looks on during his meeting with Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy (not pictured) in Cairo, November 26, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
President of the Syrian National Coalition Ahmad Al-Jarba looks on during his meeting with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy (not pictured) in Cairo, November 26, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

SILIVRI, Turkey (Reuters) – The main Syrian political opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Coalition, said it had agreed on Saturday to attend internationally sponsored peace talks beginning in Switzerland next week.

The “Geneva 2″ talks with representatives from President Bashar al-Assad’s government start in Montreux on Wednesday and are seen as the most serious international effort yet to end the near three-year conflict.

The splintered Coalition, based in Turkey, has little influence on the ground in Syria, where many rebels oppose the peace talks. Its military arm, the Supreme Military Council (SMC), has been eclipsed by Islamist rebels and al Qaeda-linked fighters.

“It was a tough vote,” the head of the Coalition’s media office, Khaled Saleh, told Reuters. The Geneva 2 process would be a “political and media battle, and on balance we decided that we must fight it alongside the war on the ground,” he added.

It was not immediately clear whether the Coalition’s vote would be backed by a separate meeting, in Ankara, of Syrian rebel militias, who would be needed to implement any agreements made at peace talks.

Opposition sources said more than 40 members had withdrawn from the vote because they wanted to wait until fighter representatives arrived in Istanbul from Ankara, to weigh in on the decision.

Out of those that did take part, 58 Syrian National Coalition members voted to attend and 14 voted against, said the group’s media office. Another three abstained it added.

The international community had pressed rebels to commit to the talks and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius welcomed the coalition’s acceptance on Saturday.

“This brave choice despite the provocations and acts of violence by the regime, is a choice to search for a peaceful solution,” he said. France, he added, would do all it could to make sure the Geneva 2 talks ended up setting up a transitional Syrian government with full executive powers.

Syrian officials have pledged to attend the January 22 Geneva 2 talks, though they dispute the invitation letter’s focus on setting up a transitional authority, saying the priority is “to continue to fight terrorism” – a phrase they use to describe Assad’s battle with increasingly radical rebels.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.

Local

Report: Rich New Yorkers don't move from NYC…

An Independent Budget Office analysis found that the wealthiest residents don't move out of the city any more or less than other New Yorkers.

National

Pioneers for domestic violence push on

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. Two decades have passed since the O.J. Simpson trial captivated the country. But in the 20 years…

Local

Food truck with a mission hires at-risk New…

A group branding itself as food trucks for social justice specifically hires and trains young men and women with troubled pasts.

Movies

Review: 'A Most Wanted Man' works better when…

In one of his last roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman headlines the John Le Carre adaptation of "A Most Wanted Man," about the pursuit of a Chechen refugee.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, July 22: 'Royal Pains,'…

Catch a new episode of "Royal Pains" where Hank has to help out a housesitter.

Entertainment

'Bachelorette' recap: Episode 10, 'Men Tell All'

Why does the #MenTellAll episode exist? Because they don’t, and it shouldn’t. Is it a lazy vehicle to sell more ad space? Is it to…

Television

Olivia Williams explains the ins and outs of…

Olivia Williams plays a botanist beginning to suspect her physicist husband's work on the Manhattan Project might be ominous in WGN America's "Manhattan."

NFL

5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

MLB

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report

NFL

Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.

Parenting

Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.

Wellbeing

Ruling could be beginning of the end for…

This morning, a federal appeals court threw out an IRS regulation that implements subsidies for low-income Americans who bought insurance through Obamacare. These Affordable Care…

Tech

RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."

Tech

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…