Damascus Names Chief Negotiator for Geneva Peace Talks
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Syria has named its envoy to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, as head of its delegation in the upcoming meeting on Syria's crisis in Geneva, according to the local al-Watan newspaper Thursday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad is the supervisor of the delegation which includes a number of high profile Syrian lawyers and Syrian Foreign Ministry senior members, according to the daily, Xinhua reported.
Meanwhile, Syria's Political and Armed Opposition Groups Coalition named Mohammed Alloush, a militant chief supported by Saudi Arabia, as its chief negotiator for talks scheduled for Jan. 25 in Geneva.
Al-Watan said naming Alloush, a relative of the late leader of a terrorist group, Zahran Alloush, is a "defiant move designed to break down negotiations."
Zahran Alloush and his Jaysh al-Islam group have been responsible for the daily mortar shelling of civilians in the capital.
He was killed two months ago during a Syrian airstrike.
Russia, which supports the Syrian government, said it still considers the Jaysh al-Islam a terrorist organization, implying that similar groups should not be involved in negotiations.
Syria said it will attend the meeting which is the third round of talks between Syrian government representatives and the opposition.
Previous attempts failed due to a substantial rift between the two parties.
The Syrian government has yet to comment on the opposition's delegation, a condition Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Damascus demands.
Earlier this month, al-Moallem said the Syrian government demands an "opposition" list as his government "does not want to negotiate with stand-ins."
Determining terrorist groups to exclude from negotiations still needs to be defined, which is another hurdle facing the upcoming talks.
Citing sources, al-Watan said the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is heading to Riyadh Sunday for final consultations before revealing opposition delegates.
Al-Watan's sources speculated that negotiations may be postponed to Jan. 28th, and opposition and government delegates may not meet face to face.
World powers, particularly Russia and the United States, have resolved to hold negotiations on schedule as an initial step towards arriving at an internationally supported roadmap to resolve the Syrian crisis.