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Last updated at 2014-01-25 11:59:45  GMT

Syria s warring sides to meet in Geneva

Syria s warring sides to meet in Geneva

Oppositional sides in Syria will hold their first joint meeting in Geneva on Saturday, with the aim of ending almost three years of conflict.

The meeting comes after a day’s delay and repeated bitter recriminations, and talks will reportedly involve “discussing a deal to allow aid into a single city, Homs,” Reuters news agency reported.

Humanitarian access for Homs, where rebels are surrounded in central districts by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, could be agreed fast.

“The practical aspects have been worked on. Things are ready and if the government doesn’t put a block on it then it could happen quickly,” a diplomatic source said.

The currently ongoing Geneva II peace conference neared collapse on Friday when face-to-face talks were meant to start.

United Nations mediator Lakhdar Brahimi put the talks back on track after persuading the two sides to focus on smaller issues on which there might be agreement.

“We do expect some bumps on the road,” Brahimi told a news conference after separate meetings with the two delegations.

“Both parties will be here tomorrow...they will not leave on Saturday or Sunday,” Brahimi said.

Opposition delegate Anas al-Abdah said the process would begin with a brief meeting at 10 a.m. (0400 ET) on Saturday at which only Brahimi would speak, to be followed by another longer session in the afternoon, Reuters reported.

“I met the delegations of the opposition and the government separately yesterday (Thursday) and again today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) we expect, we have agreed, that we will meet in the same room,” U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters.

National Coalition spokesman Louay Safi confirmed to Al Arabiya News Channel that the opposition’s delegation will hold direct talks with the government through the U.N. mediator on Saturday.

Safi said the negotiations will focus on forming a transitional authority with comprehensive powers.

He urged the government to start releasing prisoners, beginning with women and children. 

source:english.alarabiya.net

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