US, UK laud Syrian opposition's decision to participate in Swiss peace talks
United States Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague lauded the Syrian opposition's decision to attend the Swiss international peace conference scheduled for this week in Montreaux after heated weeks of debate on whether or not they would participate in the highly-anticipated talks, according to Agence France-Presse.
"This is a courageous vote in the interests of all the Syrian people who have suffered so horribly under the brutality of the [Bashar Al] Assad regime and a civil war without end," Kerry said in a statement.
Britain's William Hague "welcomed" the opposition's "difficult" decision, saying "The National Coalition reached this difficult decision against the backdrop of continued brutal regime attacks on Syrian civilians, and the deliberate blocking of humanitarian aid."
Like the opposition, Hague further emphasized that the Geneva II talks must end in a deal that ensures Assad's removal from power.
"The UN Secretary General has made clear that the aim of the talks is to agree a political transition and an end to the conflict. In contrast to the National Coalition, the Syrian regime has still not agreed to this aim. As I have said many times, any mutually agreed settlement means that Assad can play no role in Syria's future," the foreign secretary said.
The Syrian opposition National Coalition voted to attend the Swiss talks during a meeting Friday in Istanbul.
The talks in Montreaux are scheduled to commence on Wednesday, Jan. 22.