Last updated: 5 November, 2013

Qatar slams “unconditional” proposed Syria talks

Qatar’s emir criticised Tuesday what he claimed were unconditional terms for a proposed peace conference on Syria, saying the talks would lead nowhere and should focus on “achieving justice” for Syria’s people.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, whose country has been a main backer of the Syrian rebellion, criticised “attempts by some to substitute achieving justice for the (Syrian) people, who have paid the heaviest price… with unconditional negotiations that lack a timeframe and lead nowhere.”

His remarks come as Washington, Moscow and the United Nations are trying to fix a date for the so-called Geneva II talks bringing all sides together to discuss a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

More than 120,000 people have been killed since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime erupted in March 2011.

Syria’s opposition has refused to attend unless Assad’s resignation is on the table. and some rebel groups have warned that participants would be considered traitors.

For his part, Assad has said he would not negotiate with any group tied to the rebels or to foreign states.

Speaking at the opening of a new term of the Shura (consultative) Council in Doha, Sheikh Tamim said talks must “reach a political solution that recognises the Syrian people’s legitimate demands and is based on a timetable.”

On Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal also said that negotiations “shouldn’t just go on indefinitely,” in reference to the proposed peace conference.

Saudi Arabia, along with Turkey, are also main backers of the Syrian opposition.

But Doha appears to have taken a back seat since the former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, abdicated in favour of his son in June.