By Jeremy Herb
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that he was confident the Syrian National Coalition opposition groups would attend peace talks with President Bashar Assad’s regime later this month.
Kerry voiced an optimistic note after a meeting with National Coalition leader Ahmad Jarba and the 11-country “Friends of Syria” group in Paris on Sunday.
"It was a very constructive meeting today [with Jarba]. I am confident that he and others will be in Geneva. I am counting on both parties to come together."
On Monday, Kerry will also meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations Arab League envoy for Syria.
The Friends of Syria group is urging the opposition to attend the peace talks, named “Geneva 2,” to try to broker a diplomatic solution to a nearly three-year civil war.
The talks in Geneva are scheduled to begin on Jan. 22.
“We invite them to form, as soon as possible, a delegation of opposition forces to participate in the political process," the group said in a joint statement, according to Reuters.
Kerry said participation in the Geneva 2 peace talks was a “test of credibility,” which was why he had confidence the National Coalition would attend.
Jarba said he was given assurances from the 11 nations in the Friends of Syria that Assad could not remain in power in a transitional government.
"We are all in agreement to say that Assad has no future in Syria," he said, according to Reuters.