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UN-Sponsored Syria Talks Resume        02/23 06:19

   GENEVA (AP) -- Syrian peace talks under the auspices of the United Nations 
resumed in Geneva on Thursday, 10 months after falling apart over escalating 
bloodshed in the war-torn country.

   U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura convened his first morning meeting with 
the delegation of the Syrian government, headed by Bashar al-Ja'aafari.

   He later met with the head of the opposition delegation in Geneva, Yahya 
Kadamani, and Nasr Hariri, a senior member of the largest opposition group, the 
Syrian National Coalition.

   The talks are the latest bid to end the country's catastrophic six-year war 
that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more.

   The Geneva talks come after cease-fire discussions in Astana, Kazakhstan, 
that were coordinated largely by Turkey and Russia, whose air power has 
supported Assad's forces. In those meetings, the two sides sat face-to-face and 
a fragile cease-fire has since mostly been holding, though violations occur 

   Assad's forces were able to expel rebel fighters in December from a longtime 
stronghold on the eastern side of the city of Aleppo, which was Syria's 
economic capital and largest city before the war began.

   Speaking ahead of the Geneva meeting, an opposition delegation spokesman 
told AP that they hoped to achieve "at least something at the human dimension: 
lifting the siege in certain areas, getting aid to those who are besieged."

   He also hoped there would be serious work on the issue of political 
transition, a sticking point of past talks. "The world has to end this saga. 
The world has to end these brutalities," said Yahya al-Aridi.

   This is the fourth round of negotiations since early last year.

   The talks are taking place amid a hard-won, fragile truce brokered by Turkey 
and Russia, which have backed opposite sides in the six-year civil war.

   Opposition delegates have been arriving in Geneva since Wednesday and some 
held late night meetings in preparation for the talks.


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