Turkey says ready to convince Riyadh group to attend Geneva talks on Syria
AA photoTurkey has voiced its readiness to exert all efforts to persuade members of the Syrian opposition to participate in U.N.-mediated peace talks aimed at ending Syria’s conflict that are scheduled to kick off on Jan. 29.
“The opposition is resuming its discussions at the moment. We hope that they make a decision to participate. We are also encouraging them to participate,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters late on Jan. 28 ahead of an official visit to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee, which met in Riyadh earlier on Jan. 28, said the opposition group would not attend the negotiations in Geneva until an agreement is reached on aid entering besieged towns.
The committee was formed in December 2015 when the main Syrian political opposition and armed factions came together in the Saudi Arabian capital for an unprecedented bid at unity, after months of Saudi efforts.
“We are also keeping tabs in order to make sure that these justified demands of the opposition are met by the U.N. We hope that the table is set under convenient conditions as soon as possible and, most important of all, humanitarian aid reaches everybody in Syria and a new era begins in Syria. As Turkey, we are ready to make all kinds of contributions to this aim,” Davutoğlu said.
Riyad Hijab, coordinator of the High Negotiations Committee, said aid access was a precondition of the group attending.
“Tomorrow we won’t be in Geneva. We could go there, but we will not enter the negotiating room if our demands aren’t met,” he told Al-Arabiya television.
A senior delegate of the High Negotiations Committee told Agence France-Presse that a decision was expected on Jan. 29 on whether to attend the U.N.-brokered talks.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. talks, Khawla Mattar, said no postponement was planned.