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Syrian opposition meeting opens in Saudi capital

A meeting of Syrian opposition groups kicked off in Saudi capital Riyadh on Wednesday.

The two-day meeting aims at uniting different opposition groups and resuming UN-backed talks in Geneva to find a political solution to the seven-year Syrian conflict.

The opening session was attended by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, UN envoy to Syria Stephan de Mistura and 150 Syrian figures.

"The meeting is held amid international consensus on the need to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” al-Jubeir told the meeting.

“There will be no solution to this crisis without Syrian consensus that fulfills the aspirations of the [Syrian] people and ends their suffering.”

The top Saudi diplomat went on to reiterate his country’s support for the Syrian people “to achieve their aspirations in reaching a just solution”.

The UN envoy, for his part, voiced hope that the meeting would help advance the planned talks in Geneva next week.

He said the drafting of a new constitution and formation of an inclusive government will be on the agenda of the talks in Geneva.

The conference comes a few days after Riyad Hijab, the head of the High Negotiation Committee (HNC), announced a surprise resignation.

The HNC has been the main representative of the Syrian opposition since its formation at a meeting in Saudi Arabia in December 2015.

Several rounds of peace talks -- in both Geneva and the Kazakh capital Astana -- have so far failed to end the Syrian conflict, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed.

Turkey, Iran and Russia are the brokers for the Astana peace talks. In the latest round of talks in May, the three countries announced plans to establish “de-escalation zones” throughout the war-ravaged state. 

Credits: Ahmed al-Masri 
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