MESOP LATEST : Syria Kurds Aim for Unified Front Ahead of Peace Talks / Bahajat Bashir

Arbil (AFP) 19-12-2013 –  The two main Syrian Kurdish groups held talks in Iraq on Tuesday, aiming to establish a unified front ahead of a peace conference in Switzerland next month, an official said.

The People’s Council of Western Kurdistan (PCWK) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) have been at odds since last month when the former announced a transitional autonomous administration for Kurdish-majority areas of northeastern and northwestern Syria without the latter’s backing.

The dispute has led to the closure of the border between Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, which backs the KNC, and Kurdish areas of northeastern Syria.

The KNC is a member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, which has accused the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the most powerful armed Kurdish organisation in Syria and the main group in the PCWK, of ties to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The PYD wants an autonomous Kurdish area within a federal Syria, which the Syrian National Coalition opposes.

“The meetings of the Kurdish parties begin today, Tuesday, in Arbil,” the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, KNC member Bahajat Bashir told AFP. “These meetings are for the sake of unifying the Kurdish house and its political (position)… and preparing for the Geneva meeting, so the Kurdish participation will be strong,” Bashir said, referring to peace talks that are now to take place in Montreux, Switzerland. He added that the meetings also aim to improve relations between the PCWK and the KNC.Iraqi Kurdistan regional president Massud Barzani met with delegations from the Syrian Kurdish groups on Monday, his website said.