Syria Talks to Begin in Geneva on Jan. 22

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene an international conference on Syria in Geneva on Jan. 22, the UN announced today.

"This is a mission of hope," Ban told journalists today, according to the UN's website.

The State Department had hoped to hold this conference-referred to as Geneva II-this year, but it was delayed over concerns and questions about the Syrian Opposition Coalition's attendance and Iran's potential role.

The purpose of Geneva II, the US has often repeated, will be to plot Syria's move toward a transitional government, implementing last year's agreement on that principle. The State Department has avoided saying outright that this must mean Assad stepping down but has said that, in his military's use of chemical weapons, Assad forfeited his legitimate claim to lead Syria. (Assad denies his military's involvement in August's nerve-gas attack outside Damascus.)

"In the coming weeks, the regime and the opposition will need to form their delegations, and we will continue to work in concert with the UN and our partners on remaining issues, including which countries will be invited to attend and what the agenda will be to advance the Geneva Communiqué framework for political transition," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement emailed to reporters.

Both Assad's regime and Syria's political opposition will be a part of the talks. Neither the UN nor Kerry said anything about whether Iran will attend.

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