Syria is ready to participate in peace talks in Geneva aimed at ending its brutal civil war, the country’s Foreign Minister said during an official visit to China.
“Syria is ready to participate in the Syrian-Syrian dialogue in Geneva without any foreign interference,” Walid Muallem said during a press briefing following his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which last week gave its unanimous support to a plan to end the Syrian conflict by summoning rebels and the regime to the negotiating table.
“Our delegation will be ready as soon as we receive a list of the opposition delegation,” Mr Muallem said.
He added Syria was also waiting to receive a list of “terrorist organisations” that would not be allowed to participate in the talks.
The UN tasked Jordan with creating the banned list, which was submitted Friday (local time). Named groups included the Islamic State and the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front.
“We hope that this dialogue will be successful to help us in having a national unity government,” Mr Muallem said.
“[Damascus will] compose a constitutional committee to look for a new constitution with a new law of election so the parliamentary election will be held within the period of 18 months, more or less”.
With crucial backing from the US and Russia, the UN plan aims to agree a ceasefire in Syria, possibly in January, when talks could also begin.
Mr Muallem’s comments appeared to be the first time since the beginning of the Vienna peace process in October that Syria’s government has responded so favourably to a new round of peace talks.
It would be the third round of talks in Geneva — the last session, in early 2014, took place but did not bear fruit.
China announced it would extend an additional $US40 million ($A55 million) of humanitarian aid to Syria’s government and advance cooperation to address the country’s “urgent economic issues”.