Barzani sneaks to Geneva II to put Kurdish dream on table

Absent and present

ARBIL - Syrian Kurdish groups were holding talks in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region on Tuesday aimed at patching up differences ahead of a peace conference planned for next month, an official said.
Two main Syrian Kurdish groupings -- the People's Council of Western Kurdistan (PCWK) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) -- have been at odds since the former announced a transitional autonomous administration for Kurdish-majority areas of northeastern and northwestern Syria without the latter's backing.
The dispute led to the closure of the border between Iraqi Kurdistan, which backs the KNC, and Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria.
"The meetings of the Kurdish parties begin today, Tuesday, in Arbil," the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital, Bahajat Bashir, a member of the KNC, said.
"These meetings are for the sake of unifying the Kurdish house and its political (position)... and preparing for the Geneva meeting, so the Kurdish participation will be strong," Bashir said, referring to peace talks that are now to take place in Montreux, Switzerland.
He added that the meetings also aim to improve relations between the PCWK and the KNC.
Iraqi Kurdistan regional president Massud Barzani met with delegations from the Syrian Kurdish groups on Monday, a statement on his website said.
During the meetings, he emphasised the importance of establishing a unified Kurdish position ahead of the peace talks scheduled to begin on January 22, the statement said.
More than 126,000 people have been killed in the 33-month conflict pitting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad against rebels fighting to topple his regime.
But Kurdish-majority areas of the country's northeast were relatively quiet until clashes broke out this year between Kurd militia and jihadist rebels, pushing tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds across the border into Iraqi Kurdistan.