US and UK to rebels: Go to Geneva or we’ll cease supporting you
Newscast Media GENEVA—The United States and Britain have threatened to stop their support for Syria’s foreign-backed opposition if it failed to take part in the Geneva peace conference, reports said.
The Guardian newspaper and the BBC quoted a senior official in the so-called Syrian National Coalition as saying that Washington and London have made it clear SNC must take part in talk with the Syrian government.
“The US and UK are telling us you need to go to Geneva,” the unnamed official said, according to the British television and daily.
“They are making it very clear that they will not continue to support us the way they are doing now and that we will lose credibility with the international community if we do not go.”
However, he added that other foreign backers were not applying the same pressure.
“France is asking us to go but saying that we are with you whatever your decision. That is the same as the Saudi and Turkish stance – [they say] we prefer for you to go to Geneva, but if you do not or it does not work, we will not abandon you.”
The official said political support from Washington and London was important to the coalition and its withdrawal would make a difference. Syria’s opposition remains deeply divided nearly three years after the conflict began.
The coalition will hold a vote on Friday on whether or not to attend. It was asked to submit the names of its delegation to the Geneva II conference by the end of November but failed to do so.
The opposition’s failure to attend the talks would be a huge embarrassment for the UN, the US and Britain and provide further evidence of international disarray in handling the Syrian crisis, which, according to the UN, has already cost 126,000 lives since it erupted in March 2011.
Earlier, the US and Russia said they had discussed the possibility of “localized ceasefires” in Syria ahead of the peace talks.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a prisoner exchange was also under consideration. The two men have been in Paris to discuss arrangements for the Geneva talks, along with Lakhdar Brahimi the UN and Arab League envoy for Syria.
Lavrov and Brahimi also said Iran should take part in the talks.
Source: Al Manar TV News