US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the Syrian opposition to attend the UN-sponsored international peace talks next week in Switzerland.
Kerry’s plea came on the eve of the crucial meeting of the Syrian opposition leaders called the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul wherein they are scheduled to vote on attending the talks.
“On the eve of the Syrian Opposition Coalition general assembly meeting on Saturday to decide whether to participate in Geneva in the peace conference, the United States, for these reasons, urges a positive vote,” Kerry told reporters at the State Department on Thursday.
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“We do so knowing that the Geneva peace conference is not the end but rather the beginning, the launch of a process, a process that is the best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and the revolution, and a political solution to this terrible conflict that has taken many, many, many, too many lives,” he said.
An estimated more than 100,000 people have lost their lives, two million people left the country and another 6.5 million internally displaced ever since the civil war broke in the country more than two years ago; with people revolting against the authoritarian Assad regime.
Kerry is travelling to Montreux in Switzerland to attend the UN-hosted International Conference, also known as Geneva II.
“The Syrian people need to be able to determine the future of their country. Their voice must be heard. And any names put forward for leadership of Syria’s transition must, according to the terms of Geneva I and every one of the reiterations of that being the heart and soul of Geneva II, those names must be agreed to by both the opposition and the regime. That is the very definition of mutual consent,” Kerry said.
“From the very moment that we announced the goal of holding the Geneva conference on Syria, we all agreed that the purpose was specifically and solely to implement the 2012 Geneva I communique,” he said.