"We will go to Geneva with a mission of hope," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office said in a statement.
A long-awaited international conference to resolve the Syrian crisis will be held in Geneva on January 22, bringing diplomacy into sharper focus as a means to resolve some of the most intractable problems besetting the region.
The United Nations (U.N.) announced the date of the conference on Monday, a day after Iran and six global powers successfully negotiated a landmark nuclear deal in the Swiss city.
“We will go to Geneva with a mission of hope,” said the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon through his spokesperson, Martin Nesirky. The conference, billed as Geneva-2, will be held within the framework of the Geneva Communiqué that was issued in June 2012 following a meeting of the global and regional heavyweights with Kofi Annan, the former special envoy on Syria of the United Nations and the Arab League. The conference had then yielded an agreement for the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body in Syria that would be armed with full executive powers, covering all government institutions, including the military and security agencies.
The Geneva-2 conference would be the result of herculean, mostly behind- the- scenes efforts of Russia, the United States and Lakhdar Brahimi, the veteran Algerian diplomat, who replaced Mr. Annan as the joint special envoy on Syria.
Persuaded mainly by Russia, the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to the talks even earlier. But getting the opposition on board proved to be a tall order. However, there are now signs that a single delegation will represent the Syrian opposition under the umbrella of the National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces. The coalition’s vice-president Suheir al-Attasi cited the removal of all obstacles by the Syrian government that were allegedly hampering the flow of international humanitarian aid, including food and medicines, to Syrian areas that government troops controlled, as a precondition.
As the U.N. announced the date of the conference, hectic diplomacy was under way in Geneva, from where the Iranians and most of their interlocutors had just departed after successful nuclear talks, to smoothen the path of the crucial upcoming conference. Russian diplomats, Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov, began a two-day meeting with various groups of the Syrian opposition, RIA Novosti reported.
In parallel talks among Russia, the U.S., and the U.N. were also slated during these days. On its part, the UN hoped that with diplomacy promising to take root, rival parties would set the tone for reconciliation by taking specific steps “to help the Geneva conference succeed, including toward the cessation of violence, humanitarian access, release of detainees and return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced to their homes”.
Riding the wave of diplomacy in West Asia, the Palestinians have also now begun to call for an international conference to resolve their dispute with Israel. “We believe that after the Geneva conference on Syria and future Geneva-2 and probably Geneva-3 may be held,” Itar-Tass quoted Fayed Mustafa, the Palestinian ambassador to Russia. “Perhaps, one more Geneva conference — the third one or the fourth one may be convened… to resolve the Palestinian problem,” he observed.