Syrian government and opposition groups confirm participation in peace conference

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Lakhdar Brahimi , the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States

The Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi says the Syrian government and opposition groups have confirmed their participation at next month's international peace conference for Syria.

Speakin in Geneva,  Mr Brahimi said he had been informed by the Syrian government that it had already constituted its delegation to the conference and will make it public in due course.

The special envoy however said the opposition groups were still consulting on who will attend the conference.

Mr Brahimi said over 30 UN member states and regional organizations had expressed interest in participating in the peace conference.

However, the participation of Iran is in doubt after objections were raised by the United States.

“On Iran we haven't agreed yet. It is no secret that we in the United Nations welcome the participation of Iran, but our partners in the United States are still not convinced that Iran's participation would be the right thing to do-and we have agreed that we will be talking a little bit more to see if we can  come to an agreement about this. We knew from day-one  unfortunately  the division that exists inside Syria both among the fighting groups and also amongst the political groups in the opposition is such that there is no way that people who will come to Geneva or Montreaux,  to begin with will be fully representative. We know that, but this is a process. I hope that it will be as representative as possible, but this will be the beginning of the  process and I am sure in the following phases, the representation of the people of Syria will be better and better.”

Mr brahimi called on the government and the opposition to release detainees and allow for humanitarian aid to reach those in need as a gesture to show they were committed to the peace process.

The International peace conference on Syria will open on the January 22 2014 in the Swiss city of Montreaux.

Negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition groups are expected to commence in earnest in Geneva on Friday January 24.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 2:28

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