VIENNA – The committee representing the largest faction of Syria’s armed opposition announced on Friday that it would not participate in next week’s Syrian peace conference in Sochi, Russia.
“The decision has been made to not go to Sochi,” a spokesperson for the opposition High Negotiations Committee told EFE after the ninth round on UN-sponsored talks on Syria concluded without significant progress.
While opposition leaders and officials of the government in Damascus spent two days in Vienna, they did not meet face-to-face, instead exchanging proposals via the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura.
Representatives of President Bashar Assad’s government accused the United States and Saudi Arabia of seeking to sabotage any efforts toward a political solution in Syria, where some 500,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011.
De Mistura told reporters that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will decide whether the United Nations takes part in next week’s Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi.
The main item on the agenda in Sochi will be the creation of a commission to draft a new constitution for Syria, Russian officials say.
Besides the Assad government and the main elements of the Syrian opposition, Russia has invited the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, China, France and Britain – as well as the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to send delegates to the conference.