Saudi Arabia, Iran among 30 countries invited to Syria peace talks
The regime and the opposition will each send delegations to the meeting, and will hold bilateral talks hosted by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on January 24 in Geneva.
Iran and Saudi Arabia, which back opposite sides in Syria’s war, are among more than 30 countries slated to attend a peace conference next month, diplomats said.
The Geneva 2 conference, a follow-up to a 2012 meeting, is aimed at mapping out a political transition to end nearly three years of fighting that has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced millions.
But the January 22 meeting will actually be held at the lakeside Swiss city of Montreux because of a shortage of hotel rooms in Geneva, which will be hosting a luxury watch fair, a Western diplomat said.
“At the moment there are 32 countries invited, but that number may increase because everyone wants to come,” an Arab diplomat said. “In addition to the five permanent members of the Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China), there are the neighbouring countries, as well as Saudi Arabia and Iran, and also Germany and Italy and others.”
Most countries will be represented by their top diplomats and “each minister can speak for five minutes,” the Arab diplomat said. The regime and the opposition will each send delegations to the meeting, and will hold bilateral talks hosted by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on January 24 in Geneva.
Meanwhile, a blustery storm dropped torrential rain and snow on Lebanon and Jordan on Wednesday, forcing aid agencies to scramble to distribute desperately needed winter supplies like blankets and plastic tarps to Syrian refugees who have sought safe haven in the countries.
The storm, dubbed Alexa, pushed temperatures below freezing in northern Lebanon and some areas of the Bekaa Valley, which is dotted with informal refugee settlements. The winter weather heaped another layer of misery on the already grim existence of many of the estimated 1.4 million Syrians in Lebanon who fled the civil war raging in their homeland.