Ban holds first meeting with Syrian opposition chief
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - UN leader Ban Ki Moon held his first meeting Saturday with the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition in a bid to press for a Syria peace conference.
The meeting is likely to infuriate President Bashar al-Assad's government, which is still recognized by the United Nations and routinely calls the coalition and other opposition groups "terrorists." Coalition president Ahmad Jarba told Ban the opposition group was ready to send a delegation to a conference, according to UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.
Mr Ban announced on Friday that he wants to organize in mid-November a follow-up to a Geneva peace conference held in June 2012, when the major powers agreed a declaration that there should be a transitional government in Syria.
"The secretary-general welcomed Mr Jarba's commitment to send a delegation to the Geneva Conference and urged the National Coalition to reach out to other opposition groups and agree on a representative and united delegation," Mr Nesirky said.