DAMASCUS, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The countdown for the International Geneva II conference on the Syrian crisis has begun, as Syrian analysts deem it as the beginning of a solution despite the low expectations by the domestic opposition groups.
Elias Murad, president of the Union of Journalists of Syria, told reporters on Saturday that the Geneva II conference has become an international demand more than a Syrian one.
"For the Syrian people, the conference probably represents the beginning of a solution, but I don't think they count much on the conference. The real counting will be on the dialogue among the Syrians themselves," he said, adding that "if the Geneva II conference was the beginning of this dialogue, we could count on it, but if it would take us far from that goal, then the Syrians will not count on that conference at all."
The peace conference is slated to open in Switzerland on January 22 under the sponsorship of Russia, the United states and the UN.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem also presented on Friday to his Russian counterpart in Moscow a plan for a ceasefire in the northern city of Aleppo and a prisoners' swap with the opposition as a goodwill gesture.
Moallem stressed in Moscow that the conference will "meet the aspirations of the Syrians in fighting terrorism" and pave the way for an inter-Syrian dialogue far from foreign intervention.
Some observers said that the conference will succeed in reaching a quick ceasefire and introducing solution acceptable for all parties seem dim, largely because of the opposition's vague stance and representation in the conference and the de-centralized leadership of the various rebel groups, including the ultra- radical ones.
The Syrian government said it will exert all efforts to make the conference successful to end the conflict that has weighed hard on most Syrians and created miserable living conditions for a good portion of them.
The long-standing conflict has drained up the country's resources, increased poverty and unemployment to a record level, displaced more than six millions of the country's 23 million inhabitants, and forced almost two million others to leave the country.
The goal of Geneva II is to achieve a political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the government and the opposition for the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted after the Geneva I conference on Jan. 30, 2012.
The communique, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, lays out key steps to end the violence.
Yet, hurdles still lie ahead as the SNC wants no role of President Bashar al-Assad in the transitional period of Syria while the government has rejected such a precondition.