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Syria opposition resume Riyadh meeting on peace talks

An important component of Syria`s opposition resumed discussions in the Saudi capital on Wednesday to decide whether to join peace talks in Geneva.



Riyadh: An important component of Syria`s opposition resumed discussions in the Saudi capital on Wednesday to decide whether to join peace talks in Geneva.

Speaking to AFP at the venue in a luxury Riyadh hotel, spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Monzer Makhous, said the talks could last "perhaps all day".

"There will be no comment until they finish," he said.

United Nations-brokered talks, now scheduled to begin on Friday, have been delayed since Monday over who will represent the opposition.

The HNC began meeting on Tuesday to debate whether it would attend.

The Riyadh-backed grouping insists it should be the sole opposition delegation.

But several opposition figures who do not belong to the body told AFP on Tuesday they had been invited to the talks.

A source close to the Riyadh meeting said the body had received invitations to Geneva, but discussion on whether to participate was ongoing.

"The response will be a request for clarifications and not an acceptance or rejection," he told AFP, adding that the body wanted to know who else had been invited and under what terms, as well as what would be discussed.

HNC member Salem al-Meslet said the "climate is positive".

The HNC was seeking "clarifications (from the UN) concerning some issues, particularly humanitarian issues", he said.

The office of UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said it had issued invitations to the talks but declined to say who had been invited to represent President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition.

Following months of effort, Riyadh in December brought together about 100 representatives of the main Syrian political opposition and armed factions for unprecedented talks.

They agreed to negotiate with the regime but insisted Assad step down at the start of any political transition.

Riad Hijab, a former Syrian prime minister who defected in 2012, is general coordinator of the Riyadh group`s 33-member HNC.

Moscow, which along with Iran backs Assad, has criticised the Hijab group as unrepresentative.

From Zee News

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