Syria opposition sends spokesmen to Geneva peace talks: source

The largest gathering of Syria’s mainstream opposition was dispatching on Friday a small delegation to peace talks in Geneva, but “not as negotiators”, a source close to the alliance said.

Fuad Aliko, who is due to represent the High Negotiations Committee if it formally takes part in the talks, said, “A media delegation from the HNC has decided to go to Geneva. They will arrive today (Friday).” Aliko said the delegation was made up of three HNC members, who also serve as the group’s spokesmen: Riad Naasan Agha, Salem al-Meslet, and Munzer Makhous.

There were indications late today that at least one of the spokesmen had yet to leave the Saudi capital.
Today was the HNC’s fourth day of deliberating in Saudi Arabia whether or not it would attend peace talks in Switzerland hosted by UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura. The three-man delegation “might meet with some world powers, but not as negotiators,” Aliko told AFP by phone.”They might meet with de Mistura, with the Americans, but the programme is not clear yet,” he added.
Syria’s government delegation, headed by its envoy to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari, arrived on today afternoon to UN headquarters in Geneva to meet with de Mistura. The UN said de Mistura would also meet with “other participants in the talks” but did not specify who they are.

The negotiations, aimed at putting an end to the nearly five-year conflict in Syria, were already delayed reportedly due to wrangling over who would represent the opposition. The brutal war has left more than 260,000 people dead and forced millions to flee their homes.