UN-sponsored peace talks on Syria to start Friday

GENEVA -- Peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups are to start on Friday, the UN special envoy on Syria announced Monday.

See Full Article

Staffan de Mistura told reporters he would be sending out invitations to the talks in Geneva on Tuesday. The talks are expected to take six months and the sides will not talk directly to each other to begin with.

De Mistura said the priorities would be creating a broad cease-fire, stopping the threat from the Islamic State group, and clearing the way for humanitarian aid.

"We want to make sure that when and if we start, to start at least on the right foot," he said. "It will be uphill anyway."

Separately, Turkey's foreign minister warned that any participation of Kurdish forces in the Geneva talks would be dangerous and would spell the end of the initiative seeking to end the nearly five-year conflict.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish forces "terrorists," accusing them of co-operating with Kurdish rebels who are banned in Turkey. He says they have no place among the opposition at the Geneva talks.

Geopolitical tensions between countries including Turkey, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia have weighed heavily on efforts by negotiators. The initiative has run into delays and disputes notably over the invitation list. Fierce, ongoing tensions have also led negotiators to decide that the opposing sides won't initially meet face-to-face -- a sign that even minimal progress is far from certain.

The Geneva talks are the first since discussions collapsed two years ago.

Russia has called for the inclusion of Kurdish representatives, and the U.S. and others have supported the Kurds in the fight against the extremist Islamic State group in Syria. But Turkey is strongly opposed.

"There are efforts among some countries to water down the opposition. We oppose this," said Cavusoglu. "To insist that terror groups such as the YPG (the main Kurdish militia) are included within the opposition would lead to the failure of the process. We have to insist that this is extremely dangerous."

But European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who spoke to reporters alongside Cavusoglu, said that, "from the European perspective, we attach an extremely high value on the fact that the process in Geneva will be inclusive."

The UN Security Council passed an ambition resolution on the Syria crisis that set a target for the peace talks to start this month. That resolution also aims to produce credible governance and a schedule for drafting a new Syrian constitution. But airstrikes by Russia -- a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad -- against rebels have altered the military situation on the ground.

The extremist Islamic State -- considered a terrorist group -- has not been invited to attend the talks in Geneva.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Activists plan to stay in North Dakota protest camps after blocking of pipeline route

    World News CTV News
    Activists and residents of the sprawling Dakota Access pipeline protest camp say they're pleased with the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to block the project route, but are committed to keep the camps running. Source
  • Homeless prostitute planned to eat penis of man found dead in tub with genitals chopped off: Report

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — A 32-year-old homeless prostitute has been charged in the death of a 68-year-old man who was found dead in a New York City bathroom with his penis chopped off, according to a report by The New York Daily News. Source
  • Trump defends call with Taiwan's leader

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK - President-elect Donald Trump continued to use Twitter Sunday to defend his engagement with the leader of Taiwan, a breach of diplomatic protocol as the U.S. shifted recognition from Taiwan to China nearly 40 years ago. Source
  • More people should engage in politics so 'no party gets to run against Muslim Canadians,' Justin Trudeau says

    Canada News CBC News
    Canadians from different backgrounds should get involved in politics so that "no party gets to run against Muslim Canadians or any other group," says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.You can watch and read more about the discussion with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday at CBC.ca/Toronto. Source
  • University class takes on case of B.C. woman stripped of citizenship

    Canada News CTV News
    SQUAMISH, B.C. -- A group of university students in Squamish, B.C., is hoping their school work will help change the life of a woman whose Canadian citizenship was stripped under a little-known policy. Leanne Roderick, an instructor at Quest University, wanted the 20 students in her democracy and justice class to meet someone who was really wrestling with representative democracy in Canada, so she introduced them to a local woman named Byrdie Funk. Source
  • Accused hatchet-killing teen chatted about plan to murder grandfather on Kik: Cops

    World News Toronto Sun
    FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A North Carolina teenager charged with killing his grandfather with a hatchet discussed the crime in advance with a still-unidentified person on a cellphone messaging app, law enforcement authorities said in an affidavit. According to a detective’s affidavit for a search warrant, the then-15-year-old discussed his forming plans before attacking Joseph Emmett Naulty, 63, in August, the Fayetteville Observer reported. Source
  • New Zealand PM John Key resigns after 8 years as leader

    World News CBC News
    New Zealand's popular Prime Minister John Key stunned the nation on Monday when he announced he was resigning after eight years as leader. Key had been widely expected to contest his fourth general election next year. Source
  • New Zealand Prime Minister John Key resigns after 8 years

    World News CTV News
    WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand's popular Prime Minister John Key stunned the nation on Monday when he announced he was resigning after eight years as leader. Key had been widely expected to contest his fourth general election next year. Source
  • Heartbroken family set to return to Medicine Hat without baby son's stolen ashes [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    It’s been a traumatic weekend for a Medicine Hat family, who will be going back home heartbroken after their baby’s ashes stolen over the weekend in Calgary remain missing. Laura Hudson and her husband Nathan issued a desperate plea for help Saturday after she discovered her purse, which contained the ashes of her late son Hunter, had been stolen from a Calgary hotel bar the night before. Source
  • Twitter account belonging to 7-year-old Syrian girl disappears

    World News CTV News
    For months, 7-year-old Bana Alabed has turned to Twitter to share harrowing scenes and stories from her war-ravaged hometown of Aleppo, Syria. On Sunday, with the city under fierce attack from Russian warplanes and Syrian government forces, her account disappeared. Source