World

Syria says government officials won't attend Geneva peace talks to hand over power

  • In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians look at damages after a missile hit the eastern countryside of Homs, Syria, on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

    In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians look at damages after a missile hit the eastern countryside of Homs, Syria, on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)  (The Associated Press)

  • US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman arrives for a meeting with the UN Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and the Russian deputy foreign ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The meeting takes place to assess prospects of peace talks in Geneva between Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and a united opposition delegation. (AP Photo/Keystone, Jean-Christophe Bott)

    US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman arrives for a meeting with the UN Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and the Russian deputy foreign ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The meeting takes place to assess prospects of peace talks in Geneva between Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and a united opposition delegation. (AP Photo/Keystone, Jean-Christophe Bott)  (The Associated Press)

Syria's information minister says government officials will not discuss handing over power or forming a transitional government at peace talks planned for later this month in Switzerland.

Omran al-Zoubi's comments Tuesday come hours before a Syrian envoy is to meet Russian and U.S. officials in Geneva to assess prospects for the peace conference between President Bashar Assad's government and a united opposition, as the country's civil war rages into its third year.

Members of the exiled and Western-backed opposition group insist Assad be excluded from Syria's future leadership for any talks to take place.

In an interview with Syrian state TV late Monday, al-Zoubi said Geneva talks are part of a political process, "and not a handover of power or forming a transitional governing body."