Syrian delegations expected at Syria peace talks in Geneva today

Syrian delegations expected at Syria peace talks in Geneva today
Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:05:35

Syrian government negotiators are expected to arrive in Switzerland on Wednesday for UN-backed talks aimed at ending the civil war, adamant that they will not discuss President Bashar al-Assad's ouster.

(AFP) -- Damascus had initially refused to confirm it would attend the talks, which began on Tuesday, given the rebel opposition were maintaining their hardline stance on the president's removal.

But the United Nations announced that government representatives would arrive on Wednesday reportedly after securing key concessions, including keeping the President Assad issue off the table.

The talks have achieved little through seven previous rounds but there are hopes the latest may make some progress in ending what has been a devastating conflict.

Opposition representatives, united in one delegation for the first time, met UN mediator Staffan de Mistura on Tuesday.

A day earlier rebel delegation chief Nasr al-Hariri had told reporters that his camp was still insisting on Assad's removal as part of any peace deal, defying calls for moderation.

But keeping the Assad issue off the table may also suit de Mistura, who has said he wants this round to focus on a new constitution for Syria and UN-supervised elections.

De Mistura had voiced hope the coming round would mark the first "real negotiation" on a possible deal to end the six-year war which has claimed more than 340,000 lives and left Syria in ruin.

He has also warned the opposition that intransigence on the Assad issue might no longer be tenable.

In September, he said the opposition needed to be "realistic" and accept that "they didn't win the war", a statement supported by facts on the ground.

(Photo: AFP)

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