World News

Syrian National Council Agrees to Attend Peace Talks with Government

The main Syrian political opposition group has voted to attend internationally sponsored peace talks next week in Switzerland.

The Syrian National Coalition's media office says 58 of 73 coalition voters have supported attending the so-called Geneva 2 talks with representatives of President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Another 44 who had initially attended the session had withdrawn and did not vote.

The opposition groups meeting in Istanbul Saturday were under heavy U.S. pressure to attend the upcoming Geneva conference, which is aimed at forming a transitional government.

Many opposition leaders have refused to attend talks without a prior commitment that President Bashar al-Assad would step down.



The Syrian government considers all rebel forces to be terrorists, and has tried to shift the focus of the peace talks from forming a new government to fighting extremism.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Syrian president Friday the U.S. is not out of options to pressure his government to comply with the goals set in the first Geneva conference.

Kerry has said the talks are the "best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and the revolution."

Meanwhile, Syria's government says it has given Russia a plan for a cease-fire in the country's largest city of Aleppo and an exchange of prisoners with Syrian rebels.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said during his visit to Moscow Friday he had turned over the proposals in preparation for peace talks with the rebels.

Featured Story

FILE - Children dressed in Santa Claus outfits line up before a Christmas celebration at a kindergarten in Hanoi.

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More