The Syrian government says it will participate in U.N.-sponsored peace talks aimed at ending the country's civil war, but insists that it is not going to the conference to hand over power.

The United Nations announced Monday that the long-delayed peace negotiations will begin Jan. 22 in Geneva. A full list of participants has yet to be decided.

Syria's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that President Bashar Assad will send an official delegation to the conference. The ministry stressed that the representatives "will be going to Geneva not to hand over power to anyone" but to meet with those "who support a political solution for Syria's future."

The Syrian opposition and its Western supporters insist that Assad cannot be part of a transitional government.