Geneva II peace talks witness bitter exchanges

Bern, Jan 23: Syrian government and its main political opposition traded bitter accusations on the first day of a major peace conference held in the Swiss resort city of Montreux, BBC reported.

The Syrian opposition and the US said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had no legitimacy and he must step down from power.

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem had a terse exchange with the UN chief Ban Ki-moon over the length of his speech and said only Syrians could decide Assad’s fate.

Syrian conflict has left over 100,000 dead and millions of people displaced.

The ongoing summit, co-sponsored by Russia and the US, is discussing the Geneva communique which lays out a political transition plan for Syria.

Wednesday’s initial meeting, involving speeches from 40 or so foreign ministers, has ended. The direct talks, however, are scheduled to begin in Geneva Friday.