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Slow progress: UN-led peace talks on Syria on shaky ground

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Slow progress: UN-led peace talks on Syria on shaky ground
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Progress has been slow, after two days of UN-led Geneva peace talks on Syria.

Bashar al-Ja’afari, the Syrian government’s chief negotiator, says he will study a paper handed to him by UN mediator Staffan de Mistura, but that the first meeting had only covered the format of the meetings to come.

Negotiations got off to a rocky start amid disputes over the role of the Syrian opposition delegation.

Nasser al-Hariri a delegate for the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces told reporters:
“We want a political transition in Syria because it is only through this that we can unite all the forces to fight terrorism. While the regime collaborates with terrorists, we are the first to be victims of terrorism because we are fighting the forces of Bashar al-Assad, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups.”

De Mistura urged cooperation as he brought together government and opposition representatives for the first time in three years.

However, with the opposition groups failing to resolve the issues dividing them, a direct meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s contingent appears unlikely to take place anytime soon.

The last Geneva talks, ten months ago, saw a similar situation with the two parties never meeting in the same room. Progress was slow and discussions eventually ground to a halt.

De Mistura is hoping to set up a plan for this round of talks that could extend into early March.

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