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Published: Sunday January 12, 2014 MYT 11:30:01 PM
Updated: Sunday January 12, 2014 MYT 11:30:01 PM

Friends of Syria group urges opposition to attend Geneva talks

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius signs a contract during a meeting at the Saudi Royal palace, in Riyadh December 29, 2013. REUTERS/Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius signs a contract during a meeting at the Saudi Royal palace, in Riyadh December 29, 2013. REUTERS/Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - The "Friends of Syria", an alliance of mainly Western and Gulf Arab countries who oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, urged opposition groups on Sunday to attend this month's peace talks, saying there was no alternative for a political solution.

"There is no other political solution," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on behalf of the group. "There will be no political solution for Syria unless 'Geneva 2' meets."

An internationally sponsored meeting bringing Assad's government and opposition groups to the table is due to be held from January 22 in Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva.

In a final statement, the 11 core Friends of Syria nations urged the Syrian National Coalition to attend the talks. The grouping of Western-backed rebels is deeply divided on whether to go and will announce a decision on January 17.

"We urge the National Coalition to respond positively to the invitation to set up the Syrian opposition delegation sent by the U.N. Secretary General," the Friends said in a joint communiqué.

"We invite them to form, as soon as possible, a delegation of opposition forces to participate in the political process."

Coalition President Ahmed al-Jarba, who attended the Paris meeting, did not say whether he believed the Coalition would send a delegation, but said he was reassured that the 11 nations had agreed that there could be no transition if Assad remained in power.

"We are all in agreement to say that Assad has no future in Syria," he said.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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