UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations on Monday said it was waiting for regional powers spearheading the Syria peace process to agree on who will take part in talks starting in just one week’s time and raised the possibility of a delay.
The peace talks, the first between the Syrian government and the opposition since 2012, are scheduled to open in Geneva on January 25, but invitations have yet to be sent to the delegations.
The 17 countries pushing for a peace deal, including the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have been struggling to agree on the list of opposition leaders who will have a seat at the negotiating table.
“At this stage, the UN will proceed with issuing invitations when the countries spearheading the international Syrian Support Group process come to an understanding on who among the opposition should be invited,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “urges those countries to redouble efforts to reach that agreement,” he said.
The Geneva talks are to pave the way to a new constitution and elections in 18 months to end Syria’s nearly five-year war, which has killed more than 260,000 people and triggered a mass refugee exodus to Europe.