Syrian Peace Talks Begin, Sans Iran

Diplomats and representatives from over 40 countries convened outside Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday in an effort to find a peaceful resolution to the Syrian civil war, in which more than 130,000 people have been killed. The first day featured statements from foreign ministers, including heated remarks from representatives of the National Coalition—the umbrella group representing elements of the rebel groups fighting for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad—as well as Secretary of State John Kerry. “Millions of people are relying on the international community’s ability to help find a solution that can save their lives and their country. And we see only one option: a negotiated transition government formed by mutual consent,” said Kerry. He added, “Mutual consent, which is what has brought us here, for a transition government means that that government cannot be formed with someone that is objected to by one side or the other. That means that Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government.” However, Assad’s Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem, called members of the opposition “traitors” and accused other Arab countries of funding terrorism in his country, reported the BBC. Skepticism of the conference’s success abounds, in part due to the absence of major players such as Iran, whose invitation was rescinded before the talks began. (Kerry transcript)