Syria Peace Talks Date Tentatively Set for December

Reports say that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would announce the date on November 25

A long-delayed conference aimed at ending Syria's 32-month conflict will be held in Geneva on December 12, a Syrian government daily reported on Thursday, citing diplomatic sources in Paris.

 

The al-Watan newspaper said that US Secretary of State John Kerry had told his French counterpart Laurent Fabius that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would announce the date on November 25.

 

It said that a source in the Syrian government declined to confirm the report.

 

The international community has been seeking for months to convene a Syria peace conference dubbed "Geneva II" but proposed dates have come and gone with no progress.

 

Munzer Aqbiq, an adviser to Ahmed Jarba, president of the opposition National Coalition, told AFP that a date for the talks had still to be finalized.

 

"The organizers of Geneva II want the conference to be held before the end of the year. Dates have been proposed around mid-December. These not are not official dates. They are proposals which must be discussed," Aqbiq said.

 

Russia and Egypt insisted Thursday a political solution is the only way to end Syria's war, with Moscow's top diplomat calling for peace talks to be staged as soon as possible.

 

Russia wants an "international conference as soon as possible to open a political dialogue" that can resolve the Syrian crisis, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a visit to Cairo.

 

Nabil Fahmy, the foreign minister in Egypt's interim administration, said for his part that Cairo was against any military intervention in Syria.

 

"We call upon all to work on a political solution" to end the war, he said

 

More than 120,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising that erupted in Syria after President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on protests in March 2011.

 

The opposition wants Assad's departure from power to be a condition of any peace talks, while the government has said the president's role will not be on the table.

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