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New round of Syria peace talks to kick off in Geneva

February 23, 4:22 UTC+3 GENEVA
The opposition is also represented by participants of armed groups, including the Free Syrian Army
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GENEVA, February 23. /TASS/. Intra-Syrian talks will resume in Switzerland’s Geneva on Thursday after a 10-month pause.

The delegations of the Syrian government and the opposition represented by a number of groups (Riyadh, Moscow, Cairo and Astana) will make another attempt to agree on the future of the country, which has been hit by the bloody conflict for six years already.

The sides will discuss governance, timeframe for preparing the constitution and future elections, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Wednesday, stressing that this is in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

On the first day of talks, de Mistura plans to hold bilateral meetings with some participants in Geneva. Later, the UN envoy expects to welcome all delegations in the presence of the International Syria Support Group. This confirms the unity of international community and its determination to settle the Syrian crisis, he said.

De Mistura gave no further details on the negotiations. During the previous rounds of talks, the UN envoy separately met with the representatives of different delegations, but agreed with the participants that direct talks would be more efficient.

Over the past weeks, the Syrian government and the armed opposition have twice sat down at the negotiating table in Kazakhstan’s Astana during plenary meetings. Apparently, de Mistura will try to repeat this success at the Geneva platform.

The UN envoy stressed that the current conditions differ from the situation of January-April last year. The difference is that the ceasefire established in late December 2016 has lasted longer than the one agreed a year ago.

The opposition is also represented by participants of armed groups, including the Free Syrian Army. The military situation in Syria has significantly changed: the government forces have taken control of Aleppo.

The exact timeframe for completing this round of talks is yet unknown, but de Mistura’s office says it is expected to last for around two weeks.

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