Syrian Kurdish group ‘not invited to peace talks’

 The Syrian Kurdish group the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has not been invited to peace talks in Geneva at the end of the week, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday.

Turkey opposes the PYD’s attendance at negotiations over the future of Syria due to start Friday. The group is linked to the PKK, which has waged a 32-year insurgency against the Turkish state that has seen more than 40,000 killed and is listed as a terrorist group by the EU and U.S.

Speaking to France Culture radio, Fabius said Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, had told him the PYD had not been asked to attend.

“Mr. de Mistura sent invitations… the PYD group was causing the most problems and Mr. de Mistura told me he had not sent them an invitation letter,” Fabius said.

The minister said de Mistura, who has led the way to find a solution to the five-year civil war in Syria, had told him that a Saudi-backed group would lead the negotiations for the opposition though other opposition groups would also be present.

Fabius said he had spoken to the leader of the Saudi group, Riad Hijab. “He will respond to de Mistura and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon this morning,” Fabius said.

“If I understand their position, they say yes to negotiations… and at the same time want details to be given in terms of who is participating, what’s being done on the humanitarian front and what we are going to talk about.”

France has played a key role in the U.S.-led coalition against Daesh in Syria and Iraq and has backed opposition forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.