Damascus 'ready' to take part in UN peace talks

Damascus 'ready' to take part in UN peace talks
Damascus is prepared to take part in UN Geneva peace talks set for January, says Syrian foreign minister. The talks aim to form a national unity government in Syria.
2 min read
24 December, 2015
Syria is ready for UN peace talks says foreign minister Walid Muallem. [AFP]
Damascus is ready to take part in Geneva peace talks set for January, said Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem on Thursday in reference to talks scheduled between the opposition and the regime aiming to help form a national unity government in Syria to end the country's civil war.

"We hope that this dialogue will be successful to help us in having a national unity government," Muallem said during an official state visit to China.

"This government will compose a constitutional committee to look for a new constitution with a new electoral law so the parliamentary election will be held within the period of 18 months, more or less." Muallem added.

The UN Security Council approved a resolution endorsing the international road-map for a Syrian peace process last Friday.

The agreed road-map aims to lead to the formation of a national unity government in Syria and see elections held within a two-year timeframe, a move that observers hope will bring an end to the fighting.
"China's position is very clear. We believe Syria's future, its national system, including its leadership, should be decided and set by the people of Syria"

-Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Syria's readiness for the talks were echoed by the political and media adviser to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Bouthaina Shaaban, in a televised appearance on Wednesday.

"There is now a genuine international corporation to fight terrorism," said Shaaban "There is greater understanding of [our] position".

But the prospects for agreement and ceasefire remain distant as fighting as battles continue to rage across Syria.

A recent offensive saw the Assad regime accused of using poisonous gas to break a truce held with opposition forces in the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh.

The regime forces dropped barrel bombs containing the gas on the town's southern neighbourhoods on Tuesday evening, said the Syrian National Coalition in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Despite the UN Security Councel resolution, international powers are still majorly divided as to the fate of Bashar al-Assad.

US and Arab allies remain convinced Assad must leave office as part of the process, but Moscow insists this is a decision for the Syrian people.

Syrian opposition groups had met in Riyadh earlier this month to lay out the a collective framework for the upcoming negotiations with Assad's government.

More than 250,000 people have died since protests against Assad's regime erupted in March 2011, and millions more have fled their homes.