U.K. to Host International Syria Talks Jan. 9-10

The U.K. will host an international meeting on the future of Syria tomorrow and on Jan. 10, Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

The gathering, which will include representatives from the U.S. and countries from the region alongside the leadership of the Syrian opposition coalition and academics, will focus on planning for a change of government, Hague said on his Twitter Inc. feed today.

The departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “is inevitable,” Hague said. It’s “vital that the international community plans ahead for the day after in Syria,” he said. “The aim is to galvanize planning for political transition.”

The Syrian conflict, which began with peaceful protests in March 2011, has become a civil war that has killed more than 60,000 people, according to United Nations estimates. The number of Syrians urgently needing humanitarian aid quadrupled to 4 million between March and December, the world body said last month.

Assad addressed his nation two days ago for the first time since June, offering a plan to end fighting that was quickly rejected by opposition groups and Western governments. In a televised address, he criticized rebels fighting his rule as “terrorists” and said Islamists were trying to take control of the country at the behest of foreign powers.

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