Syria accuses main opposition of taking peace talks 'hostage'

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Recent peace talks in February between the Syrian government and the opposition ended on Friday in Geneva.

The opposition groups came together and faced the Damascus delegation only at the opening ceremony, a thoughtful moment rich in symbolism that could not be repeated after almost 10 days of tense talks.

"We have been able to impose a rational and reasonable agenda that serves the high interest of the Syrian people", added Jaafari, noting that the topic that was highly focused on is that of fighting terrorism, SANA news agency reported.

Veteran envoy Staffan de Mistura said he hopes to invite both sides back to Geneva later this month for a new round of talks, which will include the issue of counter-terrorism at the request of Damascus.

"We heard that. the Riyadh platform refused the inclusion. of counter-terrorism", Ja'afari told reporters after meeting United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura.

The Syrian regime and opposition agreed a "clear agenda" to seek peace for the war-scarred country at talks which ended on Friday (Mar 3), the negotiations' United Nations mediator said.

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Syria's first U.N. -led peace talks in nearly a year ended on Friday without breakthrough but the United Nations mediator said the warring parties now had a clear agenda to pursue a political solution to the country's six-year-long conflict.

Under UN Security Council Resolution 2254 they should be framed in three "baskets" or areas of discussion: governance, constitution and elections. "He has terrorism, but has to engage on transition", one Western diplomat said. The bar was set so low by De Mistura, who started the talks saying he expected no breakthroughs, that just keeping everyone at the table was viewed as an achievement.

Since the last round was held previous year, rebel factions have lost eastern Aleppo, one of their main strongholds in the country, and are increasingly on the back foot as Damascus seeks to consolidate its military gains on the ground.

"I really want to express my gratitude to the Syrian invitees for engaging with me and my colleagues in serious discussions during these last nine days", the special envoy told press.

"While it remains our goal to secure an agreement to move to direct negotiations between the government and the opposition, there is a moment in fact when it is more effective to have a proxy meeting like we have had this time".

The UN official also said that the Astana and Geneva efforts complement each other.

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