Friends of Syria to press for peace dialogues

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AMMAN: Backers of the Syrian uprising meet in Amman on Wednesday to discuss a US-Russian proposal for peace talks, as the brutal two-year conflict escalates close to the border with Lebanon.

“This meeting . . . in Amman is to bring together all of the key players in the region as well as the key partners in Europe and the United States to talk about strategy,” a senior US State Department official said.

Eleven top diplomats from Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States are attending the meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria group.

“It’s basically to review where we are on Syria,” the official said.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told reporters that the US-Russian deal was a “turning point” in the conflict.

Syria’s umbrella opposition National Coalition is reportedly not attending the Friends of Syria conference, but will be meeting this week in Istanbul, where it is expected to hammer out its stance on the peace effort.

The group will also be taking decisions on its leadership, in a move that officials say is key.
“One of the things we’ll be talking about here in Amman . . . is what else needs to be done with respect to the military balance on the ground,” the US official said, urging the opposition to unify ranks.

AFP

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