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The New Arab

Syrian opposition to meet Russian delegation at Geneva talks

The talks could last until March 5, a couple of days longer than scheduled [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 February, 2017

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Syria's main opposition group attending peace talks in Geneva will meet a Russian envoy later on Monday to discuss calls for Kurdish groups to join the ongoing negotiations.

The main opposition group at Syrian peace talks in Geneva will meet a Russian envoy later on Monday to discuss calls for Kurdish groups to join the ongoing negotiations.

Members of the High Negotiating Committee [HNC] have told The New Arab they will also respond to a UN framework paper on "facilitating talks" between the various opposition groups and the regime.

Kurdish HNC negotiator Abdel Hakim Bashar said that the rebel delegation would meet Russia's Middle East director Sergei Vershinin to discuss comments recently made by Moscow's deputy foreign minister that Kurdish groups must take part in the talks.

HNC spokesman Salem Meslet said: "We have dealt positively with the UN paper and we will present our response to UN envoy Staffan de Mistura."

De Mistura's paper calls for the formation of a credible, pluralistic and non-sectarian government and provides a timetable to ‎form a new constitution that would allow free UN-supervised elections.

Meslet accused the regime delegation of not being serious about discussing a political transition and "stalling" the talks.

An opposition source told The New Arab that the HNC will press the UN Syria envoy to ensure a lasting ceasefire and political transition that includes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepping down from power.

De Mistura has issued a ban on mobile phones, recording devices and "offensive language" during the talks aimed at resolving Syria's six-year-old war.

The fourth round of Geneva talks began on Thursday, but as in previous meetings there appears little prospect of the two sides meeting face-to-face.

The talks could last until 5 March, a couple of days longer than originally scheduled. The first full day of talks was on Friday.

In Homs on Saturday, blasts targeted two security service bases, killing dozens including a top intelligence chief and close confidant Assad.

The Homs attacks came a day after 77 people, mostly civilians, were killed in a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group in al-Bab, recently recaptured by rebel forces.

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