Nov. 25 - The U.N. chief says it's 'unforgivable' for two sides in the Syrian conflict not to seize opportunity to end suffering. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) An international peace conference aimed at ending Syria's civil war will be held on January 22, the first face-to-face talks between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels seeking to overthrow him, the United Nations announced Monday. The United Nations is hoping for a peaceful transition in Syria, building on an agreement between world powers reached in June last year. The deal calls for the warring sides to set up a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities, but leaves open the fate of Assad. It was not clear from the statement made by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon whether Iran would be invited to the "Geneva 2" talks. He did not take questions. (SOUNDBITE) BAN KI-MOON, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS, saying, "At long last and for the first time the Syrian government and opposition will meet at the negotiating table instead of the battle field." "Even though the conference will take place in about eight weeks, all parties can and must begin now to take steps to help the Geneva Conference succeed including toward the cessation of violence, humanitarian access, release of detainees, return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced people to their homes." "It would be unforgivable not to seize this opportunity to bring an end to the suffering and destruction it has caused."