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Speaking in Paris on Monday 16 January 2017, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir expressed support for the efforts being made to advance the peace process in Syria. Mr Al-Jubeir met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on the sidelines of the Middle East Peace Conference that took place in the French capital over the weekend. At the conference it was announced that the EU will host a conference on Syria and the region in Brussels in Spring 2017 focussing on the political process towards a transition. The aims of the conference are to take stock of the state of play of UN talks in Geneva; humanitarian work and support for resilience and stabilisation, to assess progress in implementing commitments made at last year’s conference in London and to identify possible gaps and how to address them, and possible support to post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation once a credible political transition is firmly underway.

Minister Al-Jubeir’s comments were also reflected in the UN Security Council meeting of 17 January, where the Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi said the Kingdom would continue to participate in all international efforts towards achieving a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis. He expressed support for Council resolution 2336 (2016), which had called for a peaceful transition for Syria, as well as several General Assembly resolutions, including one which had called for the establishment of a mechanism to gather and document evidence and hold to account those responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity. He underlined that the oppression by the Syrian regime, with the support of the Russian Federation, Iran, Hezbollah and other community militias, must come to an end, and the people of Syria must be able to determine their own political future.

Russia, Iran and Turkey’s proposed talks in the Kazakh capital Astana next week aim to reach a cease-fire in Syria. Mr Al-Jubeir said that these talks were worth testing, but should not be construed as Riyadh abandoning moderate opposition groups fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. “The objective is to arrive at a cease-fire and move on to the political process. Let us test it. So far it has not succeeded,” he said. “If it does, then we go down the political path, but that does not mean we abandon the moderate opposition.”