World powers prepare for Syria peace talks

Geneva, Nov 5 (IANS) Delegates from the UN, Russia and the US arrived here Tuesday for a trilateral meeting to prepare for the long-delayed peace talks on Syria.

Participants include UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, Xinhua reported.

Following the meeting, talks will be held in the afternoon with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Syria's neighbours - Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey - will be involved in another session later in the day.

The meetings came after Brahimi toured the Middle East seeking support for the international conference on Syria, dubbed 'Geneva II' and initiated by Russia and the US in early May.

No final date has been set for Geneva II, which is intended to bring the Syrian government and opposition groups to the negotiating table to find a political solution to the more than 30-month conflict.

During Brahimi's visit, the Syrian government agreed to attend the conference but the deeply fractured Syrian opposition groups were split on whether to attend.

Brahimi said the conference would not take place unless the opposition took part.

Meawnhile, ITAR-TASS quoted a source close to the tripartite consultations as saying that the diplomats of Russia, the UN and the US have Tuesday coordinated texts of invitations to participants in the Geneva II peace conference.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will circulate the texts of the invitations to the Syrian government, the opposition and external players.

The source described the first round of talks Tuesday as constructive.

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