Syria to take part in Geneva peace talks

Damascus: A Syrian government delegation will arrive in Geneva on Wednesday for the latest round of peace talks, state-run Syrian news agency Sana reported on Tuesday.

“Following intensive contacts, held during the past two days between the Syrian and Russian sides, the Syrian Arab Republic decided to participate in the eighth round of the intra-Syrian dialogue in Geneva,” a source was quoted by Sana as saying.

The Syrian government delegation will be headed by Syria’s UN ambassador and chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari.

The delegation delayed its departure for the talks, which begin on Tuesday, due to the newly-unified Syrian opposition’s insistence that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad step down.

The Syrian government and opposition negotiators will have the chance to hold direct talks for the first time, the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Tuesday.

A day earlier, De Mistura said the talks in Geneva should be held without preconditions and claimed the crisis – which began in 2011 – now has the potential to move towards “a genuine political process”.

A breakthrough in the new round of talks seems improbable as Assad and his allies push for a total military victory in the civil war in Syria.

The Swiss city of Geneva has hosted seven rounds of the peace talks, the last round of which ended on July 14.