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Syria opposition groups say share goals, but no agreement for talks
By REUTERS
10/01/2014
 
CORDOBA, Spain - Several factions of the Syrian opposition, meeting together for the first time, called on Friday for a new coalition but did not reach agreement on who should attend peace talks later this month, or whether they would attend at all.

With less than a fortnight to go until the first direct talks between the opposition and President Bashar Assad's government - set for January 22 in Switzerland and called "Geneva 2" - Western backers have struggled to unify rebel groups.

The main opposition body in exile, the National Coalition, has been plagued by bickering. It postponed a decision on whether to attend Geneva 2 until next week after nearly a quarter of its 121 members threatened to resign following the reelection of its Saudi-backed leader, Ahmad al-Jarba.

Diplomats hoped they could bring a more comprehensive group together at Friday's meeting in Cordoba - a venue offered by the Spanish government because of its historical importance as the capital of an Islamic caliphate 1,000 years ago.

A final communique from the meeting proposes setting up a committee to coordinate opposition groups, with the eventual goal of holding a national conference attended by about 1,000 people, said Yahya al-Aridi, a spokesman for the meeting.
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