Syria opposition announces negotiating team as peace talks get underway

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Geneva, Switzerland __ UN-mediated Syrian peace talks got underway here Friday, and are currently expected to continue into the weekend, western diplomats said.

UN/Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met separately with the two Syrian regime and opposition delegations on Friday. A meeting with both sdes and Brahimi in the same room, originally expected by some to take place Friday, may now occur on Saturday, the westerm diplomats said.

“Brahimi delayed the trilateral meeting planned for this morning to allow for more preparation,” a senior U.S. administration official said Friday. “Our understanding is that …he still plans to meet with the regime and the opposition together.”

“This is the beginning of a negotiation process, and as today has shown, expect ups and downs as it proceeds,” the US diplomat said. “What is important is that the Geneva II process continues.”

This will be a “step by step” process, another western diplomat said late Thursday. “The aim” on the delicate first day of talks “is to avoid walking outs ” by either side.

In one seemingly positive sign, the Syrian opposition coalition, ahead of meeting with Brahimi Friday, formally announced the members of its official negotiating team.

Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba is the head of the Syrian Coalition negotiator delegation in Geneva 2, a spokesperson for the group said. Mr. Hadi Bahra will lead the negotiation.

Other members of the Syrian National Coalition negotiating delegation, as announced by the team’s spokesman Dr. Louay Safi, are below the jump.

The members of the delegation are:
Badr Jamous, Syrian National Wave & SG of SOC
Haitham Maleh, Board of Revolution’s Trustees & Legal Committee of SOC
Hadi Bahra, Democratic Union Bloc & Political Committee of SOC
Anas Abdeh, Syrians Wave – Movement for Justice and Development & Political Committee of SOC
Abdul Hamid Darwish, Kurdish National Council
Nazir Hakim, Civilians’ Protection Committee & Political Committee of SOC
Suheir Atassi, independent & Head of ACU & member of SOC
Mohammad Husam Hafez, defected diplomat
Louay Safi, National Bloc Foundation & Spokesperson of SOC

Technical Team:
Rima Flihan, independent & member of SOC
Abdul Ahad Steifo, Assyrian organization & member of SOC
Obaida Nahas, National working group & member of SNC
Mohamad Sabra, independent
Ibrahim Biro, member of the Kuridish bloc in the SNCouncil
Ahmad Jakal, member of SOC & SMC

(Photo: Syria’s Foreign Minister walid al-Muallem, AFP / Getty. )