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Syria conference may be in July, work still to do: Brahimi

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

GENEVA (Reuters) - A conference on ending the fighting in Syria may now take place in July but there is still a lot of work to do, international envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday after preparatory talks with U.S. and Russian officials.

"We have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to hold this conference in June. We will be continuing our consultations with Russia and the United States to see about windows of opportunity to hold the conference as soon as possible - hopefully in July," he told reporters in Geneva.

"The only sticking point is... the Syrian component of the conference," he added.

The two Syrian sides have expressed interest in joining the conference but they need to agree on the need for a political transition and establishment of a transitional governing body, Brahimi said.

"This is what this is all about. And the Syrian sides are not ready," Brahimi said, adding that the Syrian delegations had not yet been formed. "Evidently there is still a lot of work to do to bring a conference about."

The conference would begin with a high-level meeting over two days chaired by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Brahimi said. That would be followed by intensive negotiations between the Syrian parties, facilitated by Brahimi.

A previous conference in Geneva last year almost came unstuck over the question of Iran's possible participation, which Russia supported but the United States opposed. In the end neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia took part.

Diplomats said Iran's participation at the forthcoming conference had not yet been agreed.

Brahimi and U.S. and Russian officials plan to hold a second round of preparatory talks on June 25.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Tom Miles and Gareth Jones)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130606/syria-conference-may-be-july-work-still-do-brahimi