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Syrian opposition rejects UN envoy’s proposal for peace talks

Representatives from the Syrian government and opposition delegates take part in the first session of Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan on January 23 2017 [Aliia Raimbekova/Anadolu]
Representatives from the Syrian government and opposition delegates take part in the first session of Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan on 23 January 2017 [Aliia Raimbekova/Anadolu]

The Syrian opposition yesterday rejected remarks by UN envoy Staffan de Mistura in which he said that he would pick the opposition delegation representatives to the peace talks in Geneva “if they failed to do so”.

Senior officials in the Syrian opposition rejected the envoy’s comments as “unacceptable”. The opposition’s High Negotiations Committee General Coordinator Riad Hijab said on Twitter: “Selecting the Syrian opposition delegation is not the business… of de Mistura”.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the opposition umbrella group Salem Muslet said de Mistura’s comments were “unacceptable” and constituted a “disregard for the ability of the representatives of the Syrian people”.

Muslet also asked whether de Mistura would “intervene in the formation of President Bashar Al-Assad’s delegation”.

On Tuesday, de Mistura said the Syria peace talks will take place on 20 February “to give the opposition enough time to present a united delegation.” The UN envoy warned that if the Syrian opposition had failed to pick its representatives by 8 February he would select the delegation “in order to make sure that it can be as inclusive as possible”.

The Syrian regime and opposition agreed to a nationwide ceasefire in December last year under Russian and Turkish auspices.

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