Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Vatican to be Peacemaker at Geneva II

Pope greets world's ambassadors on January 13
Towards the end of August last year, President Obama was intent on firing missiles at Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. News reports indicated that the attack against Syria was imminent. The coalition of western nations in favor of the attack was growing quickly. But it was never carried out. The British Parliament refused to support the military action, and Obama was facing a nation that was tired of constant war. Also, not to be overlooked, at the Vatican 100,000 people gathered to pray and fast for peace.The new and very popular Pope Francis was proving that he was a factor to be reckoned with.

The Syrian civil war is a topic that is very important to the Vatican. They have been a loud voice calling for a negotiated peace. On December 28, 2013 Assad sent a high level delegation to the Vatican to deliver a personal message to Pope Francis. On January 13, 2014 they held a one day meeting to discuss peace in Syria.  Many notable people attended the meeting including former British prime minister and Quartet envoy Tony Blair and former Egyptian vice president Mohamed ElBaradei. Now the Vatican has been given a seat at Geneva II. Tomorrow, January 22, they will send Monsignor Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's representative to the United Nations and Monsignor Alberto Ortega Martin, an official from the Vatican's Secretariat of State to Geneva to participate in the negotiations to end the Syrian civil war. The Vatican will be there, Iran will not.

Vatican to appeal for reconciliation at Syrian peace conference

Geneva, Switzerland, Jan 21, 2014 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis' continual focus on the Syrian civil war will contribute to the Holy See playing a key role at the “Geneva II” international peace conference, due to start tomorrow, Jan. 22.

The Geneva II meeting aims at a political settlement to the Syrian conflict, providing for a transitional government in the country which has been mired in conflict since March, 2011. The conference will include representatives of both the Bashar al-Assad government and opposition groups, as well as foreign diplomats.

The Holy See's role in the Syrian peace process was acknowledged in the decision of Assad to send a high-level delegation to the Vatican Dec. 28 to deliver a personal message to Pope Francis. The delegation was composed of Joseph Sweid, minister of state, and Hussam Eddin Aala, ambassador to the Holy See.

The two met with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

According to Sana, the news agency of the Assad regime, the president appreciates Pope Francis' efforts for peace, and reiterated that the crisis can be solved through a dialogue among Syrians, without external intervention.

Geneva II will gather representatives of the Assad regime; leaders of the Syrian National Coalition, an exiled opposition group; and foreign diplomatic leaders from the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

Iran, a close ally of the Assad regime, had been invited to participate. However, that invitation was rescinded after strong protests from the U.S. and the Syrian National Coalition following Iran's rejection of the call for a transitional government.

The Syrian National Coalition and the Assad regime seem to be at an impasse over Assad's role in any possible transitional government. A third of the coalition boycotted a vote last week over its involvement in the Geneva talks, and several other opposition groups have refused to participate.

At Geneva II, the Holy See will maintain its position, seeking dialogue and reconciliation among conflicting parties; preservation of the integrity and unity of Syria; and respect for minorities in the region.

The Holy See will also urge the world leaders to stop the flow of arms into Syria, and press for an immediate and complete cease-fire without political pre-conditions.

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