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Tillerson meets Syrian opposition team in Amman

Closed-door talks come in wake of meeting hosted by Russia attended mainly by pro-regime groups

Image Credit: Reuters
US Secretary of State Tillerson and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi arrive for a meeting in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday.
Gulf News

Amman: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Syrian opposition negotiators in Jordan on Wednesday for closed-door talks in the wake of a January peace summit hosted by Russia, which backs the Syrian regime.

The opposition and Kurdish groups had boycotted the January talks, held just days after a ninth round of United Nations-led talks in Vienna failed to yield progress towards ending Syria’s devastating conflict.

The West views Russia’s Syria peace efforts with suspicion, concerned that Moscow is seeking to sideline the UN process.

But the US acting assistant secretary of state, David Satterfield, said on Wednesday that the fallout had been limited.

“We got in the end a communique which validated the UN role,” Satterfield said before Tillerson’s meeting in Amman. “So this game, this theatre that was Sochi... finally came out in a way that did no damage.”

Despite Moscow insisting that Syrian society would be fully represented at Sochi, almost all of the 1,400 delegates were pro-regime.

They agreed to set up a commission to rewrite the country’s post-war constitution.

About 150 Syrian civil society groups accused the UN of rewarding Russia by dispatching its special envoy Staffan de Mistura to the congress.

Syria’s war has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions since it began in March 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.