Syria Daily: Russia Pressed for Assad Regime’s Return to Geneva Talks

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The head of the Assad regime's delegation, Bashar al-Ja'afari, Geneva, Switzerland, November 30, 2017. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

France and the US have called on Russia to press the Assad regime to return to political talks in Geneva over the 81-month Syrian conflict.

The regime’s delegation left the UN-backed indirect discussions with Syria’s opposition after only three days last Friday, objecting to any mention of Bashar al-Assad’s future. The head of the delegation, Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari, criticized UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s conduct of the talks.

See Syria Daily, Dec 2: Regime Walks Out of Geneva Talks

Ja’afari said then that “Damascus will decide” on any return to the table, and the pro-regime Al-Watan newspaper wrote Tuesday that that the matter “is still being studied by the Syrian leadership”.

France accused the regime of refusing to engage in good faith.

“This refusal highlights the obstruction strategy of the political process carried out by the Damascus regime, which is responsible for the absence of progress in the negotiations,” French Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Alexandre Georgini said.

He said that Russia, the regime’s key ally, needed to assume its responsibilities to ensure a resumption of negotiations.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, addressing a news conference in Brussels, said

We have said to the Russians it is important that the Syrian regime be at the table and be part of these negotiations and part of the discussion. We have left it to the Russians to deliver them to the table.

A “diplomat in Geneva” said it was likely but unconfirmed that the delegation would return to Geneva on Friday. Russia’s RIA news agency, quoting an unnamed source, said they would rejoin the negotiations on Sunday or Monday.

Meanwhile, De Mistura renewed talks with the opposition High Negotiations Committee on Tuesday. Discussions are around four general issues: governance, a new Constitution, elections, and “fighting terrorism”.

Russia Threatens to Block Aid Into Opposition Areas

Far from putting pressure on the Assad regime over its sieges of opposition areas, Russia is also threatening to block aid deliveries.

Moscow is aiming at a 2014 UN Security Council resolution, expiring in January, which authorizes the assistance. The Russian ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, has said the deliveries impinge on Syria’s sovereignty.

The resolution has been renewed twice with Russian support, but now Moscow is using the pretext of a desire for tighter inspections to threaten a halt to the assistance.

“This mechanism cannot remain as it presently stands,” Nebenzia said.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. With IS gone in the East and SAA & Co. about to return concentrated attention to Idlib, Saud Brain-Bugs are now ordering their Syrian puppets to rapidly reconcile with the reality of having lost this war, thus betraying they have essentially no hand left to play but are only bluffing for some token concession in “peace talks” as it is wrapped up:
    https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/12/saudi-arabia-russia-syria-assad-iran.html

    A high-level Syrian opposition figure requesting anonymity and who attended the High Negotiations Committee’s meeting with Jubeir [Saud FM] on Aug. 3 confirmed to Al-Monitor that Jubeir had said, “Facts on the ground have changed. … Assad will stay in power, at least till the end of the transitional period. … That is why you should prepare yourself [for the Riyadh 2 meeting] in order to cope with these changes.

    Next time, perhaps, the ‘rebels’ will pick their “Friends of Syria” with a little more discernment?

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