October 22, 2016

Syrian opposition signals hope for transitional body

Al-Muslat spokesman for the HNC attends an interview with Reuters aside of Syria peace talks in Geneva

Syria’s main opposition group is willing to share membership of a transitional governing body with current members of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, but not with Assad himself, the group’s spokesman told Reuters in Geneva.

“There are many people on the other side who we can really deal with,” Salim al-Muslat, the spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee, said on the second day of a round of UN-mediated peace talks in Geneva.

“We will have no veto, as long as they don’t send us criminals, as long as they don’t send us people involved in the killing of Syrians.”

UN mediator Staffan de Mistura has said the political transition would be the main focus of the current round of the peace talks, which aim to end Syria’s five year war in which at least 250,000 have died.

A UN resolution governing the talks says the transitional governing body will have full executive powers, and Muslat said the body would call for a national conference which would in turn form a constitutional committee.

The HNC was willing to take less than half of the seats on the transitional body, as long as it satisfied Syrians and brought a political solution, he said.

“Even if we only take 25 per cent, believe me, 100 per cent would be the Syrian people.”

If Syria’s ally Russia was willing to put pressure on the Syrian government, and if the government delegation was serious about negotiation, then a deal could be done in the current round of talks, he said.

The HNC has always insisted that there can be no place for Assad in a transitional governing body, but Muslat said there was room for negotiation on how to handle Assad’s departure.

“For a solution, to really help Syria to get relief, then let them suggest what they want for Assad and we discuss it. There is a table here in the United Nations building and we can sit and discuss all these things, we are ready to discuss these things.”

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