ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News – 21.4.2013 – Foreign ministers attending the Friends of the Syrian People core group meeting April 20 in Istanbul called on Syria’s government to sit down at the negotiation table to reach a solution based on the terms of the Geneva communiqué.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters during a press conference that Syria’s main opposition, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), had issued a declaration that focused on a political solution “in parallel” to the communiqué signed June 30, 2012, under the chairmanship of former U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan. The only way for Damascus is to come to the table and agree to an international agreement, Kerry said.
The communiqué called for a cease-fire, the formation of a transitional government and the holding of parliamentary and presidential polls. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also echoed the words of his American counterpart, saying, “We are calling for an immediate solution based on the Geneva communiqué.” The SNC’s declaration announced April 21 firmly rejected “all forms of terrorism” and vowed that weapons it acquires would not fall into the wrong hands – an assurance meant to appease Western countries’ worries over the gaining influence of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.
The coalition said it would not allow acts of revenge against any group in Syria, vowing protection for different ethnicities and confessions in the country. Kerry also insisted that the declaration foresaw a “plural” Syria. Meanwhile, the group also agreed that future aid would be channeled through the rebels’ supreme military command as Gen. Salim Idris, chief of staff of the rebel forces, also briefed the foreign ministers during the meetings. Kerry also announced that the United States would provide opposition forces in Syria with an additional $123 million in non-lethal assistance. “The president directed me to step up our efforts,” he said. “Today it is safe to say we are at a critical moment.” The U.S. secretary of state urged international donors to make similar pledges of assistance with the goal of reaching $1 billion in total international support for the opposition.