World powers to urge Syria's opposition to unite
New York: Western nations and allies in the Middle East will meet on Friday to urge Syria's fractured opposition to unite, seeking a new path for ending the country's conflict amid deadlock between major powers on the UN Security Council.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hosting talks between members of Syria's opposition and the Friends of Syria - a coalition which includes the United States, the European Union and the Arab League - on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, seeking to encourage better cooperation among groups which oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Members of local groups from across Syria and representatives of the exile group, the Syrian National Council - including its head, Abdulbaset Sida - were scheduled to attend.
Officials declined to name most of the opposition figures taking part, saying that doing so would risk putting the opposition figures in danger of reprisals.
The talks, which don't include Russia, China or Iran, take place with the Security Council at a stalemate on efforts to halt the 18-month long conflict, which activists say has led to more than 30,000 deaths.
Russia and China have vetoed three Western-backed resolutions aimed at pressuring Assad to end the violence and enter negotiations on a political transition, paralyzing the UN's most powerful body and hurting chances of any progress during the General Assembly.
Clinton has decried Assad's "murdering of his own people," while Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov - who will address the General Assembly today - has accused the US and other countries of encouraging terrorism in their stance on Syria.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said it is "shocking" that the Security Council had been unable to act, while British Prime Minister David Cameron denounced the deaths of Syrian children as "a stain on those who have failed to stand up to these atrocities," a reference to Russia and China.