Syrian warring parties meet face-to-face in Switzerland

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The international conference aimed at ending the civil war in Syria has opened in Montreux, Switzerland on Wednesday with an appeal to both side to engage seriously and constructively in order to end nearly three years of violence.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the war in Syria as a profound tragedy whose death toll is well over 100,000 with more than 9.5 million displaced and in need of humanitarian support.

The Secretary-General said Syrians have the primary responsibility to end the conflict, determine their political system and future guided by the Geneva communiqué adopted in June 2012.

Mr Ban urged the international community to encourage and support the Syrian delegations to negotiate in good faith in order to save their country and embark on a new future.

"After nearly three painful years of conflict and suffering in Syria, today is a day of fragile but real hope. For the first time, the Syrian Government and the Syria opposition, countries of the region, and the wider international community are convening to seek a political solution to the death, destruction and displacement that is the dire reality of life in Syria today. The Geneva Communiqué sets out a number of key steps for a Syrian-led transition, starting with the establishment of "a transitional governing body with full executive powers, formed by mutual consent" – including over the military forces and security and intelligence services. I call on the Syrian delegations to engage seriously and constructively. Great challenges lie ahead but they are not insurmountable. I appeal to all of you to show greater vision for humanity, as well as leadership with flexibility. Syrians deserve a future of peace, dignity, mutual respect and freedom of fear." 

The Syrian government delegation is led by the Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem while the opposition delegation is led by Ahmad Jarba, President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. Negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition are expected to begin in earnest in Geneva on Friday.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 2’24″

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