Syria Peace Talks to Convene in January

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will bring the Syrian government and opposition forces to the negotiating table on Jan. 22, marking the first time the two parties have tried to diplomatically work out their differences since fighting began in March 2011, according to a Nov. 25 UN release. The hope is that the conference—known as Geneva II— will lead to a “political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement . . .,” states the release. “I expect all partners and parties to demonstrate their support for constructive negotiations,” said Ban.“All must show vision and leadership.” More than 100,000 people have died in the conflict and nearly nine million have been displaced from their homes, states the release. Lakhdar Brahimi, joint special representative of the UN and the League of Arab States, said the list of conference invitees is still being finalized, though he said Iran and Saudi Arabia could be among the delegations, according to the release. The UN also is asking Damascus and the opposition to name their delegations as soon as possible. “This conference is really for the Syrians to come to Geneva and talk to one another and, hopefully, start a credible, workable, effective peace process for their country,” said Brahimi.