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Top envoys insist Syria peace talks must proceed

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 12, 2014 at 11:34 a.m.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speaks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, left, at the US Ambassador residence in Paris, France, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014. Kerry is in Paris to attend a two-day meeting on Syria to rally international support for ending the three-year civil war in Syria. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)

PARIS — Allies of the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group ramped up pressure Sunday for peace talks that would finally bring it face-to-face with the Syrian government it wants to overthrow.

The two-day series of meetings in Paris came a week before the scheduled talks in Switzerland, as the Syrian National Coalition nears collapse, its influence sapped by chronic infighting, international pressure and disagreement over whether to negotiate with Syria's president, Bashar Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined 10 other foreign ministers to urge Ahmed al-Jarba to deliver his coalition to the Switzerland talks. The Syrian put the best face on the group's precarious position.

"We have made clear the reality of the situation on the ground," he said, flanked by the diplomats. "We have addressed issues, preoccupations and worries that we know exist."

Within Syria, the moderate rebels say the coalition-in-exile is little help as they find themselves battling on two fronts — against al-Qaida linked militants on one side and Assad's forces on another. One brigade after another has broken with the group, calling it out of touch with the harsh reality of a war that activists say has killed more than 130,000 people.


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