Skip to main content

Official: Syrian government to attend Syria II without preconditions

By CNN Staff
updated 11:13 AM EST, Wed November 6, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Presidential adviser Shaaban says the government will attend without preconditions
  • She ridicules the opposition coalition as a front for Saudi intelligence
  • Women, children, laborers are among those killed, SANA reports.

(CNN) -- Syrian government officials will attend the international conference dubbed "Geneva II" that is charged with bringing about an end to the violence that has wracked the country since March 2011, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported Wednesday.

Presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban told Russia Today TV on Tuesday that the government would attend without preconditions and with the goal of stopping violence and terrorism in the country, SANA reported.

She ridiculed the opposition coalition as a front for Saudi intelligence. "Who does the coalition represent?" she asked rhetorically, and then cited two groups described as terrorist by the U.S. State Department. "Is it al Qaeda or Jabhat al-Nusra?"

Shaaban described the Syrian government as a legitimate and elected representative of the Syrian people.

In Beirut, Lebanese caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said in a statement issued Tuesday that Geneva II is the only solution to the crisis and that Lebanon would participate, if invited, SANA reported.

The long-delayed conference would not occur before December, Russian state news agency Itar-Tass reported Tuesday, citing a source close to talks among the United Nations, Russia and the United States.

Representatives from the United Nations, Russia and the United States met Tuesday in Geneva in hopes of ironing out a plan for the talks, which have been held up in part because many branches of the Syrian opposition have said they wouldn't attend, or wouldn't participate without preconditions.

Nineteen largely Islamist rebel groups, for example, last month flatly rejected participating. Some groups want Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down before talks. And the Syrian National Coalition, a rebel umbrella group, said it wouldn't participate if Iran -- an ally of the Syrian regime -- is invited.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said there will be no preconditions for the talks, Itar-Tass reported Tuesday, adding that preconditions would run counter to plans that the United States and Russia previously drew up for the conference.

The United States and Russia announced in May that they would try to bring the warring parties to a second conference in Geneva to implement the peace plan they endorsed at Geneva I in 2012, which left open the question of whether al-Assad must leave power.

Russia's semi-official Interfax News Agency reported Wednesday that Moscow has invited Syrian opposition leaders to Moscow for "informal contacts" ahead of Geneva II.

"Our proposal for informal contacts in Moscow as part of the process of organization of Geneva II would be important from the point of view of creating a favorable atmosphere, so that people can meet and discuss their issues," Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters.

Meanwhile, the killing continued. A bomb exploded Wednesday afternoon at the entrance to Syria's railway headquarters in the capital, killing at least eight people and wounding others, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

Women, children and laborers who were doing maintenance work at the office building at Hijaz Square in central Damascus, SANA said.

Chemical weapons doubts in Syria
Al Qaeda tightens grip on Syrian city

A photo published by SANA showed exterior concrete steps in pieces; another photo showed two bags of vegetables abandoned on a nearby street.

The explosion comes amid a civil war in the Middle Eastern nation. The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 after government forces cracked down on peaceful protesters during the Arab Spring movement.

The United Nations estimates that more than 100,000 people have died in the conflict.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 5:19 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
What caught our experts' ears was as much about what he didn't address as much as what he did.
updated 6:19 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
The three-year war in Syria has claimed 162,402 lives, an opposition group said Monday, as the raging conflict shows no signs of abating.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
Official: The U.S. believes a jihadi featured in a suicide bombing video in Syria is Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha who grew up in Florida.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
For the first time, Britain has convicted someone of a terrorism offense related to the Syrian civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT