World News

Syrian government delegation to return to Geneva on Sunday for peace talks

Syrian government delegation to return to Geneva on Sunday for peace talks

The government's chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari had told reporters in Geneva on Friday that his team would go home to Syria and that "Damascus will decide" whether they would return to the UN-backed talks.

"For the time being there has been no final decision".

An eighth round of peace talks aimed at ending Syria s almost seven-year war began in Geneva last week.

"It is the responsibility of the worldwide community and the special envoy to announce to the world which party is rejecting negotiation", the chief opposition negotiator Nasr al-Hariri told reporters on Tuesday after meeting with the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Negotiations were paused over the weekend, but both sides had been expected to return to Geneva to resume discussions on Tuesday. "This is an embarrassment to Russia", Al-Aridi said at the hotel where the opposition delegation is staying in Geneva.

Following a shake-up of the Syrian opposition leadership, the Syrian National Coalition appear to have softened their stance on Russia's participation in peace talks.

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Nasr Al Hariri, the head of the unified opposition delegation, stressed the importance of the US's role in pushing the political process forward and the implementation of global resolutions to reach a political solution to the Syrian war.

"We expect and we hope they will be here very soon", she added.

The talks began last week and after a few days with little apparent progress, the United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura said that the government delegation, led by Bashar al-Ja'afari, was returning to Damascus to "consult and refresh". Western diplomats say Russian President Vladimir Putin's Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentiev was present at the Riyadh meeting last month where the opposition represented at the conference drew up a statement rejecting any future role for Al-Assad.

Jaafari described that position as "provocative" and "irresponsible", warning that "there will be no progress" if the opposition maintained that position.

Last week, Mr de Mistura shuttled between the opposition and government negotiating teams, who were installed in separate rooms off the same corridor.

More than 340,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.


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