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UN-backed Syria talks resume in Geneva

UN-backed Syria talks resume in GenevaThe top deputy for the UN Syria envoy in Geneva is meeting with envoys from the government delegation and opposition groups ahead of the formal start of the fifth round of UN-mediated peace talks, according to The Associated Press on Thursday.

The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, issued a statement on Thursday noting that all parties have arrived for the intra-Syria talks in Geneva.

His deputy, Ramzy Ramzy, kicked off the day meeting with the delegation of the Syrian government. He is also expected to meet with opposition delegates for informal consultations.

De Mistura will formally start the talks Friday after returning from discussions with regional and international stakeholders in the Syrian conflict.

On the agenda for this round are issues of governance - a political transition, the constitution and elections, as well as counter-terrorism at the request of Damascus.

The UN talks aim to find a solution to end a six-year conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with protests against Assad's regime.

A stalemate persists over most of the toughest issues, notably Assad's fate, with the opposition insisting he quit power and the government declaring the president's future off limits for discussion.
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