Riyadh to host Syria op­po­si­tion meet­ing

Manila Times - - WORLD - AFP

Saudi Ara­bia is to host a meet­ing of the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion later this month as the United Na­tions pre­pares to con­vene new peace talks with the gov­ern­ment buoyed by vic­to­ries over the Is­lamic State group.

The meet­ing will be held in Riyadh from Novem­ber 22 to 24 at the re­quest of op­po­si­tion fac­tions and will aim to form a “joint ne­go­ti­at­ing del­e­ga­tion to re­sume di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions in Geneva un­der the aus­pices of the re­ported late on Mon­day.

The lat­est round of UN- bro­kered peace talks is due to open on Novem­ber 28. UN en­voy Staffan de Mis­tura said late last month that the talks had reached a “mo­ment of truth”.

The gov­ern­ment has been buoyed by its re­cap­ture from the Is­lamic State group of the east­ern city of Deir Ez­zor and other towns fur­ther down the Euphrates Val­ley to­wards the Iraqi bor­der.

The op­po­si­tion has been weak­ened by the cap­ture of most of the north­west­ern prov­ince of Idlib by a ji­hadist-led al­liance which is

Late on Mon­day, US De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis voiced strong sup­port for the peace process, vow­ing that the coali­tion Wash­ing­ton has led against ji­hadist groups in Syria and Iraq would re­main com­mit­ted to the search for a last­ing po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion.

“We’re not just go­ing to walk away right now un­til the Geneva process has trac­tion,” Mat­tis told re­porters.

“We are go­ing to make sure we set the con­di­tions for a diplo­matic so­lu­tion.”

This year, the Geneva talks have been largely side­lined by a sep­a­rate talks process in the Kazakh cap­i­tal As­tana spon­sored by rebel sup­porter Tur­key and gov­ern­ment al­lies Iran and Rus­sia.

Those talks have re­sulted in the es­tab­lish­ment of three safe zones in key bat­tle­grounds be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the rebels, and plans for a fourth.

AFP PHOTO

COM­PAS­SION Chi­nese po­lice pour wa­ter on a stranded hump­back whale to keep it cool in Qi­dong in China’s east­ern Jiangsu prov­ince on Tues­day. The whale re­turned to sea later when the high tide came in. RIYADH:

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