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Syria: UN-Arab League envoy regrets opposition group’s absence from Geneva talks

Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

Syria: UN-Arab League envoy regrets opposition group’s absence from Geneva talks

The United Nations and Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria regrets the decision of one of the opposition groups, the National Coordination Committee (NCC), not to take part in next week’s international conference in Switzerland seeking to end nearly three years of civil war.

Lakhdar Brahimi called NCC President Hassan Abdel-Azim yesterday to convey his “deep regrets’ but said he respected the decision.

The conference will seek to achieve a comprehensive agreement between the Syrian Government and the opposition for fully implementing the decision of an earlier Geneva conference in June 2012, which called for the creation of a transitional government to hold elections.

Well over 100,000 people have been killed and more than 8 million others driven from their homes since the conflict erupted in March 2011 between the Government and various groups seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.

The UN has sent out invitations to the conference to more than 30 States, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as to representatives of the Arab League, the European Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

In a statement issued by a UN spokesperson today, Mr. Brahimi said he told Dr. Abdel-Azim “he respects the decision of the NCC but deeply regrets that NCC will not be part of the delegation of the Opposition which will discuss in Geneva how the terrible war now raging in Syria must be brought to an end.”

He added that he is familiar with the work of the NCC and its members in support of democracy, and the freedom and dignity of the Syrian people, mentioning in particular two if its members who have disappeared.

There has been no information about Abdel Aziz al-Khair since he was arrested or kidnapped in September 2012 on the road from the airport to Damascus, while Rajaa Al-Nasser was arrested or disappeared in broad daylight in the centre of Damascus on 20 November 2013.

“Mr. Brahimi wishes the NCC well, and is confident they will continue to work for the return of peace to their country, and the advent of the new and democratic Syria,” the statement concluded.