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Dr. Hijab meets French President Francois Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius

Date Posted: 11 January 2016

Dr. Riad Hijab met with French President Francois Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the Élysée Palace, on Monday 11th January 2016.  Their discussions focused on important developments in Syria, as well as, the outcome of meetings between the High Negotiations Committee and UN Special Envoy to Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura.

The visit comes as part of efforts by the Committee to consult with Syria’s friends on the most effective ways to contribute to the political process.  Dr.Hijab stressed the need for securing the right conditions for the start of negotiations: pressing foreign forces in Syria to a ceasefire, committing to articles (12) and (13) of Security Council resolution (2254), which includes lifting the siege imposed on cities to enable humanitarian agencies to deliver aid to all those in need, the release of detainees, ceasing aerial shelling and artillery attacks against civilians and civilian targets, followed by other good will and confidence-building measures, without which negotiations will surely fail.

Dr. Hijab reiterated that the HNC was founded on the principles declared in the Riyadh Statement in relation to the negotiation process; these include: unity of Syrian territory, preservation of state institutions while restructuring and reforming the security and military institutions, the rejection of terrorism in all its forms, and the establishment of a pluralistic system which is inclusive and representative of all Syrian people. Bashar al-Assad and his regime will not be part of any future political arrangements. Dr. Hijab further added that the Geneva Communiqué (2012) represents a basis for negotiations on the transitional phase; particularly that which relates to the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive authority.

Dr. Hijab reviewed with President Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius the preparations by the HNC towards the launching of the political process, and the determination of a well-qualified team of negotiators to move forward. Dr. Hijab further stressed that attempts to obstruct the political process serve only the agendas of terrorist groups with long-established links to the regime.

Dr. Hijab also pointed out the loopholes in Security Council resolution 2254 which allows foreign forces to continue bombing populated areas, the provocative tactics of classifying some opposition factions as terrorist organisations, the attempts to interfere in the selection of the opposition delegation, thus prolonging and disrupting the political process at a very critical juncture for the Syrian People.

Dr. Hijab said: "I informed President Hollande and Foreign Minister Fabius of the dire need to address the tragic humanitarian situation in Syria and tackle it above and beyond the negotiations; under international law there should be no political bargaining with a regime and its allies committing and using abhorrent atrocities and humanitarian suffering to achieve political gains.   It is imperative for the international community to intervene to stop such violations and to ensure a safe environment for dialogue.”

Dr. Hijab concluded with “A national program inclusive of Syrian community groups and grass-root organisations should be established within a national agenda framework, aiming at improving living conditions, building confidence and restoring national cohesion.  Such program should take place in conjunction with the launch of the political process which may continue up to six months. "