March 11, 2016 / 2:54 PM / 2 years ago

Syrian dissident Haytham Manna says he will not attend Geneva talks

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Prominent Syrian dissident Haytham Manna said on Friday he would not attend peace talks that are to start next week in Geneva, saying he had been invited but saw little chance for their success.

Haytham Manna, co-leader of an opposition group called the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), talks to reporter outside a hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

“Nothing has changed ... it’s not serious,” Manna, who is not part of the main Saudi-backed opposition, told Reuters. “I don’t like failure... I don’t want to participate in a failing project.”

Manna is co-leader of the Syrian Democratic Council. He boycotted the last round of talks saying he would not take part unless two Kurdish leaders, Saleh Muslim and Ilham Ahmed, were also invited. The Kurdish PYD party, of which Muslim is co-chair, is part of the Syrian Democratic Council.

Manna did not explicitly say his boycott this time was over the Kurdish issue, but that there must be a “working strategy” for “serious and representative talks”.

Russia says Kurds should be included in the talks.

The Kurdish PYD-affiliated YPG militia controls wide areas of northern and northeastern Syria, and has captured a significant amount of territory from Islamic State. The YPG has been the most effective partner for the U.S.-led air campaign against the group in Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Council was formed in December at a meeting in northeastern Syria with the stated aim of promoting a secular, democratic vision for the country.

Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Louise Ireland

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