A new round of peace talks is set to begin Monday for Syria’s warring parties.
The second round of talks will have the Syrian government and the opposition engage engage for the first time in tangible discourse.
The negotiations which will be mediated by the United Nations in Geneva seek to find a lasting solution to end conflict that has engulfed the Arab country.
Meanwhile the United States and France have accused the Syrian government of trying to sabotage the talks after the country’s foreign minister Walid al-Moualem said they will not discuss presidential elections at the talks in Geneva.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the government is “trying to disrupt the process” and stated that prerequisites could damper the talks before they even start.
Ahead of the talks, Al-Moualem heaped criticism on the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura for saying presidential elections would take place in less than two years.
“Neither he (UN Special Envoy Staffan De Mistura) nor anybody else has the right to talk about presidential elections. The elections are an exclusive right for the Syrian people. So what De Mistura said opposes all UN documents that the dialogue, which is to happen, is based on,” Al-Moualem said.
The main Syrian opposition umbrella group is pushing for an interim government in which President Bashar al-Assad and the current regime have no role.
“The number of violations by the regime exceeded 350 during the past 14 days. All this proves that the regime violated the truce in a way that can’t be called violations, but non-commitment,” said Mohamad Alloush, the lead opposition negotiator.
A ceasefire deal has cut violence for the past two weeks but both sides claim violations by the other.
The ceasefire is aimed at facilitating a reconciliation between the Syrian government and moderate rebel forces.
The UN-led talks will coincide with the fifth anniversary of Syria’s war.
More than 250,000 people have died since conflict erupted in Syria and millions have fled the country.