The EU and its member countries on Tuesday refused to attend a conference organized by the Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus. 

“A number of EU member states’ foreign ministers and the High Representative have received an invitation to a conference on the theme of refugee returns, on 11-12 November, in Damascus. The EU and its member states will not attend this conference,” the European Council announced in a written statement.

The statement underlined its view that the priority should be to create conditions for a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their areas of origin.

The EU said the regime’s conference would be “premature,” adding that the conditions inside Syria were not suitable for “large-scale voluntary returns.”

“We reiterate therefore our urgent call on the regime and its sponsors to engage fully and in good faith in the work of the Constitutional Committee, as well as in all other issues mentioned in UNSC Resolution 2254, notably the release of detainees,” it added.

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