BEIJING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- The months-long efforts to bring the Syrian government and the opposition to the negotiating table have finally yielded some promising results.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday announced that the Geneva II conference on Syria will be held in January, the first face-to-face talks between President Bashar al-Assad's government and the rebels seeking to overthrow him.
The conference, which reflects the common aspiration of world powers, offers a negotiating platform for all sides, and has sparked a glimmer of hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
"We will go to Geneva with a mission of hope," Ban said, stressing that the conference is the "vehicle" for a peaceful transition that fulfills the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people for freedom and dignity, and which guarantees safety and protection to all the country's communities.
As many political leaders and experts have pointed out, a political solution is the only viable option for the Syrian conflict. It is time for Syria's warring sides to seize this opportunity by showing sincerity and building mutual trust.
However, the road to a political solution is destined to be bumpy, given the complexity of the crisis. The conference, the invitees of which have yet to be confirmed, is still facing many uncertainties. < Whether Bashar al-Assad will stay in power remains the biggest thorny issue. The government in Damascus has said there must be no pre-conditions to any peace talks, but the opposition have previously insisted that President Bashar al-Assad must resign.
In addition, the Syrian opposition group, which has failed to "speak in one voice" since the outbreak of the country's internal conflict, is now divided over which groups should represent it in Geneva -- and reaching consensus in less than 60 days is no easy task.
It also remains unclear whether Iran will attend the conference, though U.S. officials raised doubts about Tehran's participation.
After Ban made the announcement, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China welcomed the conference, urging all sides in Syria to enhance communication, remove existing obstacles, build mutual trust and seek consensus.
Wang also called for the international community to keep showing their constructive support, saying China is willing to continue making its contribution.