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Syrian government delegation to arrive at Geneva talks on Wednesday

A Syrian government delegation will arrive in Switzerland on Wednesday for the latest round of talks in Geneva aimed at ending the civil war, state media reported.

SANA news agency said on Tuesday that the delegation would arrive a day later than planned, while a spokesperson for the U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura said that the Syrian government would attend. The talks were set to begin on Tuesday.

“At least we know that they are coming,” Reuters reported de Mistura’s spokesperson Alessandra Vellucci as saying during a news briefing in Geneva.

A Syrian opposition delegation arrived on Monday and met with the U.N. envoy, after which he said the two sides may be able to hold direct talks for the first time.

“We are going to offer it. We will see if this takes place,” de Mistura said of the Syrian opposition and government meeting.

On November 20, a number of members of the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee, including HNC head Riad Hijab, resigned ahead of the Geneva talks. The HNC has been one of the main representative bodies of the Syrian opposition since its formation at a meeting in Saudi Arabia in December 2015.

Speaking on Monday, de Mistura said the situation in Syria could move toward “a genuine political process” during the eighth round of peace talks. He further said the talks would focus on fresh elections under the roadmap approved by the U.N. Security Council.

“Assuming that both parties arrive in Geneva, we will be looking to move them into beginning serious discussions and hopefully negotiations. Let me make one thing clear: we will not accept any preconditions from either party,” he told the Security Council.


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