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Disagreements between Geneva Delegation, HNC at Core of Syrian Opposition Talks in Riyadh | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Jordanian soldier carries a Syrian refugee child to help him board a Jordanian army vehicle with his family after they crossed into Jordanian territory, in Al Ruqban border area, September 10, 2015. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Beirut – Disagreements between opposition factions and the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) will occupy the central stage of the meetings between the “Geneva delegation” and the committee in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The HNC kicked off its meetings on Monday to discuss preparations for the upcoming round of peace talks and the visit of its coordinator, Riad Hijab, to Europe.

The committee will also review the formation of a group of advisors to discuss any proposals related to the drafting of a new constitution or a political solution to the crisis in Syria.

While the Syrian opposition factions have raised several demands, such as the replacement of Senior Negotiator Mohammed Sabra, political members within the HNC stressed that such changes were out of question and would not serve the opposition’s interests in this particular time.

In this context, a source in the Geneva delegation told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the opposition factions would discuss in Riyadh the means to resolve pending issues that have made them suspend their participation in the latest round of talks.

The opposition factions have justified their absence from the sixth round of negotiations in Geneva on the grounds of lack of a clear negotiation strategy and uncertainties in decision-making.

The sources said the factions were displeased by the performance of Sabra, who was trying to make unilateral decisions and constantly criticizing the political and military opposition delegation that took part in the Astana talks.

“It is necessary to take the adequate measures in this regard and introduce changes to the delegation, as well as replacing the senior negotiator with a different figure,” the sources said.

For his part, member of the Geneva delegation Fouad Aliko, pointed out to the same problem of unilateral decisions that are made by the HNC, but ruled out the possibility to replace Sabra.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Aliko said: “We are ready to go to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where we are expected to join the committee’s meetings.”

“However, I don’t believe that the members of the delegation would be replaced,” he added.