Published: 2017-11-28 19:09
Last Updated: 2017-11-28 20:02
A Syrian government delegation is expected to arrive to Geneva on Wednesday to attend the UN-sponsored peace talks, after Russia brokered a deal to keep the future of Bashar Al Assad off the initial agenda.
This came after Damascus threatened to boycott the talks over the demands by the Syrian opposition that Assad step aside as a precondition for its involvement.
On Tuesday, Syria's government and opposition started a new round of talks in Geneva, with little optimism for progress towards ending the seven-year conflict.
The UN-brokered Geneva talks are expected to focus on a new constitution and elections, two of the four so-called "baskets" of reforms laid out by the United Nations for a political settlement to the Syria crisis.
The UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, expressed earlier hopes that the warring factions would start a fresh round of negotiations without preconditions and within the framework of the UN Security Council's resolutions.
He said a follow-up round of talks would likely take place in December.
The head of the opposition delegation, Nasr Hariri said that the group was aiming for the removal of Assad.
He said that major powers, including Russia in particular, should apply more pressure on Assad to engage in real negotiations for a political transition, followed by a new constitution and free elections, along the lines of a UN road map to end the war, which is nearing it’s seventh year.
The Assad’s government "is using delaying tactics to obstruct progress towards a political solution at a time when the opposition comes with one unified delegation," Hariri said. "Russia...is the only entity capable of bringing the regime to the table of negotiations."
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people were killed in Syria during the war, creating the worst refugee crisis in the world, with more than 11 million people were forced to leave their homes.