Syrian envoy says peace talks won’t happen without opposition

The United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria said Friday the peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition could not happen without the opposition’s involvement.

The envoy, Lakdhar Brahimi, told reporters in Damascus that the participation of the opposition in the planned “Geneva II” talks this month was “essential, necessary and important.”

“If the opposition does not participate, there will be no Geneva conference," Brahimi said, according to Agence France-Presse.

The talks are in doubt now because Syrian opposition groups have yet to sign on to meet with the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The United States and Russia have pushed for the peace conference as a way to bring both sides to the negotiating table for a political solution to the two-year civil war.

Brahimi, who concluded his visit to Syria on Friday, expressed uncertainty about whether the meeting would happen.

"We will say it's happened only when it happens,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Brahami met with Assad this week and said the government has agreed to participate.

But the Syrian president has also raised his own doubts, telling Brahimi that talks could only succeed if foreign governments stopped giving aid to the opposition.

He has also questioned the legitimacy of the opposition groups that might participate in the talks.

On Friday, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi criticized Brahimi for characterizing the opposition and government as equals.

Al-Zoubi told Al Mayadeen TV that Brahimi “wants to satisfy all parties at the expense of truth and the Syrians alike," according to the AP.