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Syrian government delegation in Geneva for peace talks

THE LEVANT NEWS — GENEVA: The Syrian government delegation to U.N.-brokered peace talks arrived in Geneva Friday afternoon, a source close to the government told AFP, while the attendance of key opposition figures remained unclear.

“The government delegation, headed by (Syria’s U.N. ambassador) Bashar al-Jaafari, has arrived to the Geneva airport,” the source said.

According to the source, the delegation includes 16 Syrian government figures, including two members of parliament as well as representatives from the foreign ministry.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Moqdad will oversee talks from Damascus.

U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura will launch the talks Friday afternoon with a meeting with the government delegation.

“He will continue meetings with other participants in the talks and with representatives of the civil society subsequently,” the U.N. said in a statement.

The High Negotiations Committee, an alliance of mainstream Syrian opposition groups, met Friday for the fourth day in the Saudi capital.

The HNC has yet to announce whether it will join the talks.

Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests but evolved into a complex civil war that has killed more than 260,000 people.

Previous efforts at putting a stop to the violence have failed, but world powers have thrown their weight behind this round of talks, the first in two years.

Source: Agence France Presse

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