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Diplomats fail to agree on date for Syria peace conference

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Diplomats failed to agree to set a date for a planned peace conference aimed at reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis after a series of high level meetings held Tuesday in Geneva, the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria told reporters.

"We are not in a position to announce a date today, but we are still hoping to have the conference before the end of the year," Lakhdar Brahimi said, adding that he will meet again with Russian and U.S. representatives on Nov. 25 to continue discussions.

Brahimi first met with Russian deputy foreign ministers Gennady Gatilov and Mikhail Bogdanov and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman to discuss the process of convening the peace conference.

The meeting was followed by another where representatives of the three other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- France, Britain, and China -- joined the talks.

Discussions were aimed at paving the way for holding a diplomatic conference dedicated to move forward with a plan for political transition in Syria agreed on in late June 2012 during the so-called Geneva I conference.

The Geneva II conference was originally scheduled to take place in June before it was postponed due to disagreements over who should participate, Iran being the main stumbling block, and because the splintered Syrian opposition had yet to agree on the composition of its delegation to Geneva.

Discussions concerning which countries and organizations would be invited to the conference have not been completed yet, Brahimi said, adding that "Iran is one of the issues that need to be discussed further."

Russia has insisted that Iran, strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, be invited to the conference, a request opposed by the United States and the Syrian opposition.

Regarding Syria's opposition camp, Brahimi said it is necessary that it settles internal divisions and comes up with a "credible delegation" in order to participate in the peace talks.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/131105/diplomats-fail-agree-date-syria-peace-conference