The United Nations on Monday announced that the long-delayed peace talks will begin Jan. 22 in Geneva. The meeting, which would be the first face-to-face talks between President Bashar Assad’s government and its opponents since the Syrian war began, has raised hopes that a resolution to a conflict that activists say has killed more than 120,000 people could be within reach.
In Tehran, the Iranian and Turkish foreign ministers called for a ceasefire as soon as possible, saying that a halt in fighting would enhance chances of peace talks succeeding. Even the most modest attempts to stop the war in Syria, now in its third year, have failed. The two ministers declined to give details of the latest ceasefire efforts when they talked to reporters at a joint press conference Wednesday.
The continued bloodletting is but one of huge hurdles that remains ahead of talks. There is also no decision on the full list of participants.
The main Western-backed Syrian opposition group has said it is ready to attend, but wants the government to establish humanitarian corridors and release political prisoners as a confidence-building measure.