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Iran Press TV

Head of Syrian opposition in Geneva to join peace talks

Iran Press TV

Wed Feb 3, 2016 3:53PM

The head of a Saudi-backed Syrian opposition group has joined ongoing UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland.

Riad Hijab, head of the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), arrived in Geneva on Wednesday, according to a message the HNC posted on its Twitter page, after the foreign-backed group canceled a meeting with Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, on Tuesday.

'We presented the demands that we wanted to demand. At this moment, there is no reason to repeat ourselves with De Mistura,' HNC member Farah Atassi said.

Hijab is set to take part in an internal HNC meeting before the group decides its next steps in the negotiations.

'With Hijab here, the HNC can better demonstrate a unified position in representing the opposition,' an unnamed Western diplomat said in Geneva.

This is while De Mistura has warned of a total failure of the talks, saying in that case 'there will be no more hope."

Syria's ambassador to the UN, Bashar al-Ja'afari, who represents the Syrian government in the peace talks, has also called the opposition "not serious."

In his latest comments on the meeting in Geneva on Wednesday, he said the preparatory phase of the talks which formally began on Monday is likely to take longer than what was thought.

'It seems the first phase of preparations will take a much longer time expected and we don't know yet when we will finish,' Ja'afari said, adding that the official discussions have not taken off yet.

The ongoing Syria talks are to be held in an 18-month timetable under a resolution unanimously approved by the UN Security Council in the hope of ending the foreign-sponsored carnage in the Arab country.

The foreign-sponsored Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011, has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people, and displaced almost eight million others.

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