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Syrian Peace Talks To Begin Next Week After Preparatory Meetings

The United Nations will begin hosting "substantive" peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition no later than March 14, with preparations for the renewed peace talks beginning March 9 in Geneva, a UN spokeswoman said.

The resumption of peace talks was made possible by a cease-fire engineered by the United States and Russia, which took effect on February 27.

The UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, will launch the talks on March 9 by meeting with task forces monitoring the truce and humanitarian aid efforts. But logistics have prevented most delegations from arriving until the weekend, UN spokeswoman Jessy Chahine said. 

Chahine said the peace talks will resume "in a staggered and proximity system," meaning that they will take place in various phases and not face-to-face, at least initially.

De Mistura said the talks are expected to last for about 10 days before breaking up for a recess.

Speaking at a press conference on March 9 in Geneva, de Mistura said a cease-fire in Syria now approaching two weeks is still holding "by and large," and was open-ended as far as the UN was concerned.

Opposition leaders have set conditions for rejoining the peace talks, and they are not as yet certain to attend.

Based on reporting by AP and TASS

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