Syrian Western-backed opposition came under steely pressure Sunday to attend peace talks in just over a week, as envoys from 11 countries converged to try and restore the credibility of a militant coalition sapped by infighting and indecision.
The meetings in Paris came just over a week before the scheduled talks in Switzerland, as the opposition coalition nears collapse, its influence eroded by the chronic discord, international pressure and disagreement over whether to negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad.
U.S Secretary of State "John Kerry" joined 10 other foreign ministers to urge Ahmad al-Jarba to deliver his coalition to the Switzerland talks and finally meet face-to-face with the Syrian government.
Kerry told a news conference in Paris with his Qatari counterpart "personally, I’m confident that the Syrian opposition will come to Geneva", stressing that " attendance was a test of the credibility of everybody".
French Foreign Minister "Laurent Fabius" said the talks were the only hope for a political solution, "the only prospect that can lead to a true solution".
Turkish Foreign Minister "Ahmet Davutoglu" said the coalition had, in fact, agreed last fall to attend the meeting.
"We are working very hard, and he is working very hard to convince the Syrian National Coalition – all of the members and also on the ground – to participate", Davutoglu said in a brief interview at the U.S ambassador’s residence in Paris, where Kerry was meeting with some of the envoys.
The meeting was clearly aimed at bolstering al-Jarba’s credibility ahead of a vote Friday on whether to go to Switzerland on Jan. 22. The 14-point declaration released Sunday states unequivocally that its goal is to allow the Syrian people "to control its own future".
The indecision and weakness of the opposition coalition also has tested the patience of its backers, including the U.S.