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Syrian sides may gather for third round of talks in Geneva - source

February 12, 2014, 18:24 UTC+3 GENEVA

The parties to the Syrian conflict may gather for a third round of talks in Geneva, and the date is to be agreed this week, a source taking part in the negotiating process said Wednesday

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Syrian opposition flag (archive)

Syrian opposition flag (archive)

© AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon

GENEVA, February 12. /ITAR-TASS/. The parties to the Syrian conflict may gather for a third round of talks in Geneva, and the date is to be agreed this week, a source taking part in the negotiating process said Wednesday.

“The outlines of the third round may be determined in the next 48 hours. Its modality and topics will be agreed upon with both sides - the government and opposition delegations,” the source said.

The parties to the Syrian conflict returned to the negotiating table on Monday, February 10, to open the second round of the Geneva-2 international peace conference on Syria. The first round of Geneva-2, which ended January 31, failed to bring any substantive results.

Geneva-2 was organized by Russia and the United States and seeks to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis which has claimed over 100,000 lives and displaced millions since its start in 2011, according to UN statistics.

Meanwhile, a United Nations source said the second round of the intra-Syrian talks would end February 14 or 15, adding that the third round had not been discussed yet.

The Syrian government delegation will leave Geneva on February 16, as planned earlier, President Bashar Assad’s advisor Bouthaina Shaaban told journalists on Wednesday.

She was unable to confirm that the second round would end February 14, but said her delegation would depart on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the UN Office in Geneva reported that the regular day of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva was over and added that UN and Arab League special Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi would not give a press briefing today.

A source in the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCSROF) told Itar-Tass on Wednesday that the Syrian sides planned to return to Geneva on February 24.

“We expect that the third round would start after joint Arab League and UN envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi flies to New York to make a report in the UN Security Council. So we hope for February 24 so far,” the source said.

Assad’s advisor Shaaban also said the Syrian government delegation believes it is illogical to discuss the fight against terrorism and a transitional governing body, as mentioned in the 2012 Geneva Communique, in parallel.

“It would be counterproductive,” she said. “We insist that that Geneva Communique should be discussed item after item. We need to start from the fight against terrorism, we need to establish trust between the sides.”

The Geneva Communique (or Geneva-1 Communique) was adopted on June 30, 2012 at a conference of an “action group” on Syria in Geneva. That conference is now commonly referred to as “Geneva-1.” Geneva-2 is a logical continuation of Geneva-1.

Shaaban also said the Syrian government delegation would not take part in a trilateral meeting of Russia, the United States and the UN, because it is not stipulated by the talks’ format. Earlier it was reported that such a meeting with participation of Syrian delegations was possible.

A military scenario was narrowly avoided in Syria thanks to an international deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, mediated in September 2013, which prevented a likely US-led military intervention in the Middle East country.

The process of disarmament in Syria was launched after hundreds of civilians died in a chemical attack made on a Damascus suburb in August 2013. The most dangerous of Syria’s chemical weapons are to be destroyed at sea by the end of March, and the rest by June 30, 2014.

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