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United Syrian Opposition Delegation Will Negotiate without Preconditions

Nov. 24, 2017 (EIRNS)—The Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) was today choosing a delegation representing all factions, to negotiate "without preconditions" in Geneva on Nov. 28, as demanded by the trio of Russia, Turkey, and Iran, and by UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has said that the Saudis had helped Russia to unify the opposition—a unity which was facilitated by the resignation of the HNC’s head, hard-liner Riyad Hijab, earlier this week.

The head of the opposition’s Cairo Group, Firas al-Khalidi, denied reports that the Cairo and Moscow groups had withdrawn from the meeting, saying that there had been a technical dispute which has now been resolved, Anadolu Agency and others report from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the roughly 140 delegates have been meeting for two days.

Although the HNC’s majority position is that Bashar Assad must step down "at the beginning of the transition," this is not expected to be a barrier to negotiations.

Meanwhile, on the plane returning to Turkey from his summit in Russia with the Russian and Iranian presidents, Turkey’s President Erdogan told a journalist from Hurriyet that he would not necessarily exclude meeting with Bashar Assad on the Kurdish issue in the future, although there is no contact at present.

"It is not appropriate to have an understanding of saying ‘no way at all’" he said. "The doors of politics are always open until the last moment."