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Ministers prepare for Syria talks
Foreign ministers from Western powers and the Arab world will gather today to make preparations for a proposed Syrian peace conference.
William Hague and counterparts from 10 other countries will meet in London to discuss how to support the Syrian opposition ahead of the conference due to take place in Geneva.
The main Western-backed opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, is scheduled to meet next month to decide whether to take part in the Geneva summit.
But one of the most prominent factions within the coalition, the Syrian National Council, has said it has no faith in negotiations with Bashar Assad's regime and won't be part of the Geneva process.
Assad has also cast doubt on the conference, brokered by the US and Russia, telling Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen TV that "the factors that would help in holding it are not in place if we want it to succeed".
"Who are the groups that will participate? What is their relation with the Syrian people? Do they represent the Syrian people or they represent the country that made them?" Assad said.
The countries in the "London 11", the core group of the Friends of Syria, will also try to shift the focus back to the humanitarian crisis after weeks of international attention on Assad's chemical weapons stockpile.
Foreign Secretary Mr Hague said the meeting was to "discuss preparations for the Geneva Conference, support for the Syrian National Coalition, and our efforts to achieve a political settlement to this tragic conflict".
Representatives of the Syrian National Coalition's leadership will attend the meeting in London, along with ministers from Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America.