Meeting with regime delegation kicks off Syria peace talks in Geneva
Journalists attend a briefing at the United Nations Offices on the opening day of Syrian peace talks on January 29, 2016 in Geneva. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)
Syrian peace negotiations are starting Friday afternoon as UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura will meet the regime delegation, headed by the permanent representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari.
"As previously announced by the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, the Intra-Syrian Talks will start today," a statement by the spokeswoman of the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Khawla Mattar noted.
In a video message to Syrians before the talks, de Mistura said: "You have seen enough conferences, two of them have already taken place. This one cannot fail."
Mattar told an Anadolu Agency correspondent that de Mistura will start peace talks with a 12-member regime delegation headed by al-Jaafari this afternoon.
After the meeting, de Mistura was expected to meet with the opposition delegation. But, the latter had preconditions to participate in the talks and had not yet arrived in Geneva.
The opposition delegations which met in Riyadh on Thursday decided not to attend the talks in Geneva until an agreement was reached to end airstrikes and regarding aid entering besieged towns, according to the Syrian opposition, High Negotiations Committee (HNC).
De Mistura is also expected to meet with representatives of the civil society.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry's director general for the Middle East, Can Dizdar will be in Geneva to follow the negotiations.
The conference aims to focus on setting up an interim government, forming a constitution and staging elections and the priorities would be establishing a cease-fire, supplying humanitarian aid and tackling Daesh, de Mistura said.
The conflict has been raging since early 2011 and has led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people and driven more than 10 million from their homes, according to the UN.
It also led to the rise of Daesh, which now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq, and the subsequent formation of a US-led coalition to tackle the group in both countries.
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