Syrian opposition open to Geneva II conference

Despite recent Russian comments that blame the U.S. for delaying the Geneva II conference, the Syrian opposition recently expressed willingness to join the conference, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.

Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the State Department, made the statement as part of a press briefing in Washington. Psaki responded to a question about recent comments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that blamed the U.S. for a delay in the Geneva II conference. The conference is meant to establish a transitional government leading away from the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Lavrov claimed the U.S. was unable to get the divided opposition to act as a cohesive unit.

Psaki said Lavrov's statement was inaccurate, seeing as Ahmad Jarba, the president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, recently reaffirmed his willingness to participate in the conference.

"Well, I would point all of you and the Russian foreign minister to the comments by President Jarba just last week where he reaffirmed his willingness to engage in a future Geneva conference," Psaki said. "They obviously speak for their intentions. We're continuing to work with them and are in close touch with them, but those are comments he made just last week about their intentions."

When asked if the U.S. believed the opposition today could coherently represent the entire opposition in Syria in a peace conference, Psaki responded in the affirmative.