With a key group in Syria's main opposition threatening to boycott next month's talks in Geneva, Arab and Western foreign ministers are expected to meet Syrian opposition members in London in a bid to convince them to participate in the peace talks. With both sides narrowing their perspectives, last month's hope for peace in Syria is receding; Geneva II is expected to enter rough weather.
The ministers are trying to convince opposition members that their unity is important if the peace talks, dubbed as Geneva II, are to succeed in any way.
The opposition group is threatening to walk away from the negotiations saying that any deal in Geneva II must see the end of President Bashar al-Assad government in Damascus.
However, the Syrian government has made it clear that President Assad's ouster was not on the table for discussion in Geneva.
Going a step further, President Assad has reportedly remarked in a Lebanese television channel that his running for re-election in the country's scheduled 2014 election is not impossible.
"Personally, I don't see any obstacles to being nominated to run in the next presidential elections," Mr. Assad commented.
Meanwhile, in London, foreign ministers from 11 countries are preparing the groundwork for the upcoming peace talks in Geneva. The so-called Friends of Syria group include Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Italy, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
All the countries in the group are expected to reiterate their position that the upcoming conference in Geneva must discuss the exit of the Assad regime and the political transition in Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry has already stressed the U.S.' stand to go along with Syria's opposition. He said the opposition would never agree to President Assad staying in power.
"If he (Assad) thinks he's going to solve problems by running for re-election, I can say to him, I think that certainly this war will not end as long as he's there," Mr Kerry noted after his talks with Arab League officials in Paris.
"I don't know anybody who believes the opposition will ever consent to Bashar al-Assad being part of the government. He has bombed and gassed people in his country... How can that man claim to rule under any legitimacy in the future?" he further remarked.
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