PHOTO: United States Secretary of State John Kerry (right) speaks during the opening of the high-level segment of the Geneva II Conference on Syria, taking place in Montreux, Switzerland. Also convening the international conference that has brought together both the Syrian Government and the opposition in an attempt to end the nearly-three-year civil war in Syria are (from left) Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Lakhdar Brahimi, Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria; Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; and Michael Møller, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) | © UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.
40 Countries met in Montreux, Switzerland for Syrian Peace Talks on January 22.
The meeting was tense with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking the Foreign Minister of Syria, Walid al-Moallem, to refrain from making inflammatory remarks. Walid al-Moallem’s provocative remarks were in response to United States Secretary of State, John Kerry.
John Kerry stated firmly that the U.S. will not acknowledge Bashar al Assad as part of Syria’s transitional government, “There is no way, no way possible in the imagination that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern.”
Walid al-Moallem addressed John Kerry saying, that no one in the world has the right to give legitimacy or take it away from a president or government or constitution or law in Syria, but the Syrians themselves. Al- Moallem further accused the U.S. of fabricating the story of the Syrian government using chemical weapons against it own people.
Initially, there were 30 countries invited to participate at the Syria Peace Talks, but shortly before the conference began, 10 more countries were added to the list, seemingly pre-selected by the UN Secretariat, and mostly anti-Syrian, Bashar Ja’ afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations said in his statement to the press later that day.
The Syrian government and opposition met on January 24 at Palais des Nations in Geneva in non-direct discussion. Additional face-to-face meetings were scheduled over the weekend, and are is first ever meeting of it’s kind since the conflict started in March of 2011. Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said in a statement to the press that the discussions he has had with the parties have been encouraging.