Paris-The French Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the meeting of countries that back the Syrian opposition, which will be held in Paris next Monday.
French diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the purpose of the meeting, which has been called for by Syrian Opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) leader Riyad Hijab, is to prepare for the talks of the “International Syria Support Group” that will likely be held in Vienna or Berlin on May 17.
It also aims at assessing the political developments in Syria and discussing efforts to restart the Syrian peace process, said the sources.
The French Foreign Ministry’s announcement came a day after a State Department spokesman shied away from saying whether Kerry would attend the Paris meeting on Syria with Arab ministers.
Kerry will be in Paris on Monday for talks with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, then fly on to Britain the next day, said the spokesman.
But the Secretary of State’s participation in the meeting of support for the Syrian opposition is of high significance after he played an important role in striking a deal with his Russian counterpart to extend the ceasefire to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
The statement made by State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner that Washington believes “the ISSG still plays a primary role,” was understood that Washington was not enthusiastic about the Paris meeting.
But he sought to limit criticism by saying the U.S. is “supportive” of efforts, particularly those carried out by its allies for the sake of Syria.
The French Foreign Ministry called in its statement on Friday to end the violations to the truce in Syria and to improve the deteriorating humanitarian situation in dozens of Syrian cities and towns as a result of the regime’s practices, which are stopping aid from reaching them.
According to Paris, these two issues are the necessary conditions to resume the peace talks to have a political transition in Syria.
The Paris meeting will be an occasion for Hijab to reiterate the opposition’s demand for the implementation of those conditions.