Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Damascus offers prisoner exchange  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Arab News - 18/01/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - Arab News) Syria said Friday it was ready to swap prisoners with rebels and to help improve humanitarian aid as the divided Syrian opposition debates whether to join international peace talks next week



Speaking in Moscow, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Damascus was ready to offer a prisoner exchange with rebels. He however declined to specify how many or when the operation might take place

He also said he had presented a cease-fire plan for the second city Aleppo to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov



The moves came as the opposition Syrian National Coalition meets in Istanbul to decide whether to go to next week's peace conference

The Syrian foreign minister offered the concessions at key preparatory talks in Moscow for the so-called Geneva II peace conference aimed at finding a way out of almost three years of brutal conflict



His announcement could mark another diplomatic success for Russia after the Kremlin managed to convince Damascus last year to renounce its chemical weapons to avert US air strikes

It came as the deeply-divided Syrian opposition, under intense pressure from Western and Arab allies, was to meet in Istanbul to decide whether to join the talks opening in Switzerland on Jan. 22



The long-delayed Geneva II is aimed at finding a way to install a transitional government to help chart an end to the civil war, which has cost 130,000 lives since March 2011 and sent millions of people fleeing

Muallem said Syria would "make every effort to ensure this event is a success and meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and the direct orders of President Bashar Assad.

Muallem also offered to take a "series of humanitarian steps" to lead to the speedy delivery of aid to those in need, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said



But Muallem failed to address a joint call this week by Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry for a cease-fire in parts of Syria that could begin in the devastated northern city of Aleppo

Kerry also Thursday appealed to the umbrella National Coalition opposition not to boycott the Geneva talks because they represented "the best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and the revolution.



"The Syrian people need to be able to determine the future of their country, their voice must be heard," he told reporters

But parts of the opposition are wary of being drawn into a process they fear could result in Assad clinging to power and had set his departure as a condition for joining the talks

UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Friday it was vital to find a political solution to the conflict as he appealed for the world to ease the massive burden on countries which have taken in millions of Syrian refugees

The United Nations earlier this week launched a massive 6.5 billion appeal for humanitarian aid



"For me it is unacceptable to see Syrian refugees drowning, dying in the Mediterranean or pushed back at some borders," Guterres said at a meeting of refugee-hosting countries in Turkey

Friday's opposition meeting in Istanbul, which comes more than a week after the coalition failed to agree a united stance, is expected to be fraught

"The debate will be long and difficult because the coalition leadership is caught between a rock and a hard place," said one Western diplomat

"It is likely in the end that the coalition will send a delegation to Geneva but at what cost to its future.



A key bloc, the Syrian National Council, has already threatened to pull out of the coalition if it votes in favour of attending Geneva II

Complicating the situation are the fierce battles between mainstream rebels and Al-Qaeda linked jihadists that monitors say have killed over 1,000 people in two weeks



A senior Damascus official said this week that Western intelligence officials visited Syria to discuss joint security cooperation against the radical Islamist fighters, but this was denied by US officials

The Syrian regime had warned Monday against setting preconditions for the talks that kick off in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux

"Any person who seeks preconditions or mistakes their dreams for reality is leading to the failure of the Geneva conference before it even starts," Syrian state media quoted a foreign ministry source as saying



But Kerry sought to allay opposition fears that the talks would somehow legitimise Assad's regime and leave him in power, saying any names put forward for the transitional leadership must be agreed by both sides

"This means that any figure that is deemed unacceptable by either side, whether president Assad or a member of the opposition, cannot be a part of the future.



British media reported this week that the United States and Britain had even threatened to cut support to the opposition if it failed to send a delegation to Switzerland



"They are making it very clear that they will not continue to support us the way they are doing now and that we will lose credibility with the international community if we do not go," an unnamed senior coalition official was quoted as saying

Burs-pa-txw/bo

 


Arab News




  MENA News Headlines
 Feb 1 2015 - RasGas helps set up 'toy library' in South KoreaGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) RasGas and Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) have jointly established a children's 'toy library' in Anshim Social Welfare Community Center in Daegu Metropolitan City, South Korea. ...

 Feb 1 2015 - Qatari delegation holds key meetings in USGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The Qatari delegation, headed by HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, has held several important meetings as part of its visit to the United States. In Washington ...

 Feb 1 2015 - Top job for Mugabe 'will tarnish AU reputation'Gulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) African leaders are expected today to elect Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to the 54-member African Union's rotating chair, a choice critics say risks tarnishing the ...

 Feb 1 2015 - Several killed in Somalia airstrikeGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Several people are believed to have been killed in an airstrike in southern Somalia apparently targeting a house used by members of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab militia, ...

 Feb 1 2015 - Three Chad soldiers, 123 militants killedGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Three soldiers and 123 Boko Haram militants were killed when the Islamist group attacked a Chadian army contingent in northern Cameroon, the Chadian military said on ...

 Feb 1 2015 - S Africa's 'Prime Evil' killer freedGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Apartheid death-squad leader Eugene de Kock, dubbed "Prime Evil" for his role in the torture and murder of scores of black South African activists in the 1980s and early 1990s, ...

 Feb 1 2015 - Ban backs AU force to fight Boko HaramGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has given his backing to an African Union (AU) proposal to set up a regional five-nation force of 7,500 troops to fight Nigeria's Boko Haram ...

 Feb 1 2015 - DR Congo declares fresh offensive against Hutu rebelsGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The army in the Democratic Republic of Congo announced yesterday a fresh offensive against Rwandan ethnic Hutu rebels after weeks of heavy international pressure to act. But the ...

 Feb 1 2015 - Contemporary themes in focus at Delhi's art fairGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) India's biggest art fair opened in New Delhi this week with a focus on homegrown artists and exhibits inspired by contemporary themes such as the worst floods in the Kashmir ...

 Feb 1 2015 - Dubai Airports surpass Atlanta, Beijing to be the biggest in the worldMENAFN
(MENAFN) Dubai Airports will overtake Atlanta and Beijing within the next decade to become the biggest aviation hub in the world, just days after it announced it had overtaken London's Heathrow as ...

more...


 






Google

Click to Apply

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help