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Latest round of UN-backed Syria talks to kick off in Geneva

Latest round of UN-backed Syria talks to kick off in Geneva

He had said the Syrian government should come ready to negotiate and there needs to be a "united opposition delegation with common positions that comes ready to negotiate".

A Syrian government delegation will arrive in Geneva on Wednesday, a day later than expected, to attend peace talks being held there this week, Syrian state news agency SANA said.

"It no longer has the pretext that the opposition is fragmented".

A delegation from the newly-unified Syrian opposition, which arrived in the Swiss city on Monday, is due to hold a first meeting with de Mistura later on Tuesday, she said.

"We are waiting for the other side to join [the negotiations]", Yahya al-Aridi said. The talks lasted more than two hours.

"Last night, we received a message that the government would not travel to Geneva today", de Mistura said, adding "the delegation was tasked to negotiate in Geneva without any preconditions, to discuss all issues on the agenda and to have the implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions as the sole reference for the negotiations".

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In an emailed statement, the opposition negotiating committee said it was ready to meet the government side.

"I was just informed by the Russians today at the P5 meeting that the Russians have proposed and the government has accepted a ceasefire on Eastern Ghouta because we were and are very concerned about it", de Mistura said.

Nasr Hariri, head of the opposition delegation, told a Geneva news conference on Monday night that he is aiming for Assad's removal as a result of negotiations.

The opposition leader held talks with the British minister responsible for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, on Monday night before meeting with USA acting assistant secretary of state for near east affairs David Satterfield on Tuesday morning.

De Mistura's deputy, Ramzi Ezzedine Ramzi, had said in Damascus on November 25 that four baskets would be under discussion in talks staring on Tuesday in Geneva, adding that the focus would be on the second and third baskets, pertaining the elections and constitution.