Syria takes first steps towards peace

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iol pic wld Switzerland Syria Peace Talks~27 Associated Press A demonstrator clenches his fist in front of a poster of Syrian President Bashar Assad. File picture: Salvatore Di Nolfi

Geneva - Syrian government and opposition delegations met briefly in the presence of international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi at the United Nations on Saturday, their first session of talks aimed at launching political negotations to end Syria's civil war.

“The first session has ended - Brahimi spoke for 30 minutes and none of the delegates said anything,” opposition delegate Anas al-Abdah told reporters after the meeting.

The two sides entered and left the room through separate doors, Abdah added, and were due to meet again at 4pm (1500 GMT) for talks on humanitarian issues.

He said Brahimi told them the first two days of the talks will focus on negotiations to lift sieges of civilians including in the central city of Homs, local ceasefires and humanitarian access, but the core of the negotiations should be about resolving the three-year conflict.

“He (Brahimi) told us this is a political conference ... based on Geneva 1,” Abdah said, referring to a June 2012 communique which called for the establishment of a transitional governing body in Syria. - Reuters

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