UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 18 -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday welcomed the Syrian opposition's agreement to take part in next week's international conference in Switzerland to seek an end to Syria conflict.
In a statement issued here by his spokesperson, Ban said the decision was "a courageous and historic step in the interest of a negotiated political solution to a three-year conflict that has caused so much misery and destruction."
Ban said he looks forward to the opposition's expedited formation of a delegation that broadly represents the diversity of the Syrian opposition including women.
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Syria's main opposition bloc, announced earlier in the day after a vote in Turkey's Istanbul that it would join the peace talks, also known as Geneva II conference.
The Secretary-General will chair the event, which will be held in two parts. Following the opening session in Montreux on Jan. 22, talks between the two Syrian parties will start at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Jan. 24, facilitated by Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi.
According to UN figures, more than 100,000 people have been killed and more than eight million others driven from their homes since the conflict in Syria erupted in March 2011.