DAMASCUS, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Moallem said Wednesday that his government participated in the Geneva II conference on Syria to save and protect the country, stressing that the Syrian government will keep fighting terrorism, according to the state-run SANA news agency.
Speaking in Montreux, Switzerland, during the opening session of the Geneva II peace conference on Syria's crisis, al-Moallem said, "We came to salvage Syria and to protect its civilization... and to prevent the collapse of the entire Middle East."
"Those who sit with us today, their hands are smeared with Syrians' blood," he said, taking a bold swipe at the countries that support the Syrian rebel groups and that were present at the conference.
Al-Moallem accused gulf states, mainly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, of "exporting terrorism" to Syria.
The Syrian government has for long charged that regional countries support militant jihadist groups in Syria.
"We will keep striking terrorism that has affected the Syrian people," al-Moallem added, claiming that the West pretends to fight terrorism while it secretly supports it.
Addressing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, al-Moallem said "no one in this world has the right to give, or strip the legitimacy of the president, the government or the constitution of Syria except the Syrians themselves."
Meanwhile, Syria's Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi also stressed that the presence of the Syrian delegation at Geneva II conference is based on Syria's national interests, which include stopping the bloodshed of Syrians, repelling foreign terrorists and protecting the national sovereignty.
''Combating terrorism is the main access for any political solution and any political step or political development would be meaningless under terrorism," al-Zoubi said at a joint press conference with Syria's Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari on Tuesday in Montreux.
The Syrian government maintained that its presence at the Geneva conference was not to hand over power, but to negotiate with the opposition to find a solution to the crisis.
The Geneva II peace conference was established to resolve the Syrian conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the government and the opposition with the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted by 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 in Syria.
However, many hurdles lie ahead as the Syrian government said ahead of the conference that the main purpose should be fighting terrorism in Syria, while the opposition said the conference should result in the establishment of a transitional government with full executives without any role for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Geneva II conference kicks off in Montreux
MONTREUX, Switzerland, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- A UN-backed international conference started Wednesday at the Swiss lakeside city of Montreux, aiming to end a three-year-long conflict in Syria.
The meeting, dubbed Geneva II and chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, gathered representatives from both the Syrian government and the oppositional organizations for the first time in three years. Full story