Published: Thu, November 30, 2017
World | By Melba Underwood

Assad Representatives Expected At Syria Talks In Geneva

Assad Representatives Expected At Syria Talks In Geneva

Geneva: Syria's opposition wants Russian Federation and other states to put pressure on President Bashar Al Assad to engage in peace talks in Geneva to produce a political solution within six months, the chief of its delegation said at the start of negotiations on Wednesday. The decision to stay at least one more day came after the Syrian government announced on Monday that its delegation would not arrive in Geneva in protest of the opposition's demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leave office before a possible transition, a request rejected by both the Syrian government and the U.N. Security Council.

But the United Nations announced that regime representatives would arrive on Wednesday, reportedly after securing key concessions, including keeping Assad's rule off the table.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Tuesday the government and opposition would have a chance to negotiate directly for the first time, but it was not certain if they would do so.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria and millions have been driven from their homes since the conflict began in March 2011 with a crackdown on antigovernment protests. Syrian opposition representatives also called for direct negotiations in Geneva with representatives of the Assad government.

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Syrian government negotiators are expected to arrive in Geneva on November 29 for UN-backed talks aimed at ending the civil war.

Negotiators for Syria's combatants arrived at a United Nations complex for peace talks on Thursday amid expectations the rival teams will be encouraged to hold face-to-face discussions, in what would be a small breakthrough in efforts to end the six-year-old war.

But opposition negotiator Nasr Hariri told Reuters on Wednesday that he was ready for direct talks and was prepared to negotiate with no preconditions.

Previous rounds of talks have gone nearly nowhere, with de Mistura shuttling between hotels and meeting different groups separately.

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