Syrian opposition to present transition timetable -delegate

by Reuters
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 14:30 GMT

MONTREUX, Switzerland, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The Syrian opposition plans to present a three- to six-month timetable to set up a transitional governing body to prevent talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government from dragging on for years, an opposition delegate said on Wednesday.

Anas al-Abdah told Reuters that the proposal will be put forward when formal negotiations begin under United Nations auspices in Geneva on Friday - providing the Damascus government accepts the very idea of a transitional authority.

"First, the regime delegation has to commit to Geneva 1," Abdah said, referring to an international plan to establish a transitional governing body, with full executive powers, agreed by world powers in June 2012.

"Without the regime signing up to Geneva 1 we will not have a bottom line or a reference point for the talks."

The Syrian government has not publicly endorsed the roadmap and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Wednesday that it was for the Syrians to decide their fate and their ruler.

"We already have names in mind for the Transitional Governing Body and both sides will have a veto on the names. We do not have a problem with that," Abdah said.

"But the regime does. Assad's foreign minister spoke for half an hour today without mentioning Geneva 1," he said, referring to Moualem's lengthy opening speech to the international conference on Syria.

"If the regime does not sign up to Geneva 1 we will not repeat the mistake of the Palestinians and let these talks drag for years. We have no issue about how we will sit with the regime on Friday, whether in one room in proximity talks or two rooms. But the regime has to sign up."

Syria's government and opposition, meeting for the first time at the U.N. peace conference, angrily spelled out their hostility on Wednesday as world powers also offered sharply divergent views on forcing out Bashar al-Assad. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Alastair Macdonald)

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