The browser or device you are using is out of date. It has known security flaws and a limited feature set. You will not see all the features of some websites. Please update your browser. A list of the most popular browsers can be found below.
Now, we need to deal with reality here. We really need to deal with reality. Mutual consent, which is what has brought us here, for a transition government means that that government cannot be formed with someone that is objected to by one side or the other. That means that Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government. There is no way – no way possible in the imagination – that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern. One man and those who have supported him can no longer hold an entire nation and a region hostage. The right to lead a country does not come from torture, nor barrel bombs, nor Scud missiles. It comes from the consent of the people. And it’s hard to imagine how that consent could be forthcoming at this point in time.
So just as there could be no place for the perpetrator of this violence, there could also be no place for the thousands of violent extremists who spread their hateful ideology and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people. And as we hear talk about terrorism today, make no mistake: It is the presence of the current intransigence within the existing government that makes this problem worse. That is creating a magnet for terrorists. And until a transition takes place, there is no prayer of reducing the increase of terrorism.
There is another way forward. We all know it. It is what this conference is organized around. It is the Geneva communique, which has the support of the international community as a peaceful roadmap for transition. And the only thing standing in its way is the stubborn clinging to power of one man, one family. I believe the alternative vision of the Syrian people is one that can gather the respect and support of people all around the world. It is a place that doesn’t force people to flee or live in fear, a Syria that protects the rights of every group. We have not only an opportunity, but we have an obligation to find a way forward so that the people of Syria can choose their leadership, know peace, and for 9 million refugees, finally be able to return home in dignity.
My final comment is this: There are, in this room, all of the players who have the ability, with the exception of one or two, to have an impact on the choices that are made here. People who are supporting different groups are here. These people have the ability to affect the outcome. And if we put our common energies together, we can forge a resolution that can provide peace to the region and peace to the people of Syria. And I hope we will succeed.
For the first time, the Syrian Government and the Syria opposition, countries of the region, and the wider international community are convening to seek a political solution to the death, destruction and displacement that is the dire reality of life in Syria today.
All Syrians, and all in the region affected by this crisis, are looking to you gathered here to end the unspeakable human suffering, to save Syria’s rich societal mosaic, and to embark on a meaningful political process to achieve a Syrian-led transition – a vision first put forth a year and a half ago in the Geneva Communique, and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.
You, the delegates from the Syrian government and opposition, are here for this purpose.
You have an enormous opportunity and responsibility to render historic service to the Syrian people.
It is the most profound of tragedies that peaceful protests in Syria – calling for change – turned into a bloody civil war.
If the Government leaders had listened more attentively and humbly to the concerns expressed by the people, this conference might not have been necessary.
The disaster is now all-encompassing.
The Secretary-General met today with Ahmad Al Assi Jarba, head of the Syrian opposition delegation and President of the National Coalition of Syrian and Revolution Forces, along with other members of the official opposition delegation in Montreux.
The Secretary-General welcomed the Syrian opposition delegation to the launch of the High-Level Segment of the Geneva Conference on Syria on 22 January. They discussed the intra-Syrian talks starting on 24 January in Geneva and facilitated by Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, aimed at ending the violence in Syria and achieving a comprehensive agreement for a political settlement, implementing fully the Geneva Communiqué.
"If they want to fight terrorism they should fight themselves. The criminal regime is the one who killed more than 100,000 civilians and destroyed houses. The regime forces are the ones who possess tanks, fighter jets and barrel bombs," he told Al Jazeera from Geneva.
The Syrian government will demand support from the international community for its "fight against terrorism" during upcoming peace talks, sources in Damascus told Al Jazeera.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, in a speech he is scheduled to give during the peace conference in Switzerland, will also pledge to end the suffering of the Syrian people by agreeing to humanitarian corridors in besieged areas and to a ceasefire in Aleppo, the sources said.
Talks between representatives of the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the Western-backed opposition will begin on Wednesday. It is the first time the warring parties will enter into direct negotiations since the conflict in Syria began almost three years ago.
The government's 15-member delegation, headed by Muallem, is not authorised to agree on any deal without referring back to Assad, the foreign minister will say during the so-called Geneva II conference.
The foreign minister will also emphasise that any future negotiations will have to be held within the Syrian territories, and that the government will not accept to set a timeframe for the negotiations.
An aircraft carrying the Syrian government delegation to peace talks in Switzerland is set to continue its journey after it was delayed at Athens airport because the authorities refused to refuel the plane due to the international embargo against the Assad regime.
Syrian state television on Tuesday said the plane was "prevented from refuelling" after it had obtained permission to pass through the relevant airspace and land at Athens for refuelling.
"The matter has been settled. There was a slight delay on procedural grounds," a foreign ministry spokesman, Konstantinos Koutras, told Reuters, without providing a reason why the plane was delayed.
He added that the plane was ready to continue its journey.
Syria peace talks were in disarray on Tuesday before they began, buffeted by a botched U.N. invitation to Iran, an explosion in Beirut and new evidence that appears to show Bashar al-Assad's government has tortured and killed thousands.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's unexpected, last-minute decision on Sunday to invite President Assad's main foreign backer Iran - only to withdraw the invitation a day later - proved a diplomatic fiasco, undermining talks that are already given little chance of success.
War crimes lawyers said photographs apparently smuggled out of Syria by a military police photographer were clear evidence Assad's government has systematically tortured and killed some 11,000 detainees. One of three former international war crimes prosecutors who signed the report compared the images from Syria to the "industrial-scale killing" of Nazi death camps.
A suicide bomber killed four people in Beirut, capital of Lebanon, showing the urgent danger of sectarian violence spilling to Syria's neighbours, three years into a civil war that has already killed at least 130,000 people inside Syria.
The peace conference set to begin on Wednesday will include the first talks between Assad and his opponents. But hopes of a breakthrough are negligible at a time when fighting has escalated and neither side shows any sign of retreating from its demands or being able to end the war with a victory.