By Laura Smith-Spark
LONDON (CNN) -- Foreign ministers from 11 countries are meeting with Syrian opposition leaders in London on Tuesday as they try to bolster the prospects for peace talks due to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, next month.
The so-called Friends of Syria meeting brings together foreign ministers from countries including the United States, Britain, France, Turkey and Gulf nations.
The proposed Geneva conference between Syrian government officials and opposition leaders, intended to broker an end to the country's civil war, has been delayed several times.
Ahead of Tuesday's talks, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was vital to get both the Syrian opposition and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to engage in a political process.
"We want the moderate opposition in Syria to know that we are behind them in going to Geneva, that we will continue to help them in many ways, and of course to persuade them this is the way -- this is the only way in the end -- to solve this tragic and bloody conflict in Syria," he said.
"The participation of the regime and the opposition is the main focus of our discussion today."
The ministers will also discuss ongoing efforts to rid Syria of its chemical weapons arsenal and how to step up humanitarian efforts to allay the suffering of the Syrian people, Hague said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Ahmad al-Jarba, president of the Syrian National Coalition, a key opposition group, and other opposition leaders ahead of the Friends of Syria meeting.
In the course of their 45-minute discussion, Kerry told al-Jarba there was "a lot going on, as you know better than anybody."
Kerry added, "We've been looking forward to this meeting because obviously it's an important time. So there's a lot that we can discuss."
International weapons inspectors have in the past month entered Syria to begin verifying and destroying its chemical weapons arsenal.
But some in the Syrian opposition have protested that this has done nothing to stop the killing of Syrian civilians using conventional weapons.
According to the United Nations, well over 100,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011 when government forces cracked down on peaceful protesters.
The United States and Russia announced in May that they would try to bring the warring parties to a second conference in Geneva to implement the peace plan they endorsed in 2012 -- at what has come to be called Geneva I -- that left open the question of whether al-Assad must leave power.
At a news conference in Paris on Monday, Kerry said the aim of the new peace conference, dubbed Geneva II, would remain the same as that of the first: to have "a transition government by mutual consent."
"There's a human catastrophe awaiting the world if you can't have a negotiated solution," he said.
Without one, he said, what lies ahead is "more and more refugees, more and more displaced people, more and more destruction, and the potential of the absolute implosion of state of Syria."
He said it would be up to the United Nations and joint U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to announce the date for the conference.
Difficulties to overcome
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said Sunday in Cairo that peace talks were scheduled for November 23 in Geneva, but the date is not firm.
"There are many arrangements to be made and many difficulties which must be overcome to make this conference possible," he said.
Syria's Deputy Prime Minister said last week that the "presumed dates" had been agreed to during a conference at the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Brahimi said Sunday that he plans to meet with Russian and U.S. officials as well other representatives of the U.N. Security Council to finalize details.
He also stressed that no meeting could be held without a "convincing opposition that represents Syria's opposition population."
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