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UN Envoy Urges Syrian Sides To Grasp Opportunity For Peace


UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura (file photo)

The United Nations mediator for Syria has called on government and opposition negotiators to grasp the opportunity to find a solution to the Middle East country's long civil war.

Staffan de Mistura spoke ahead of peace talks under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva due to open late on February 23, 10 months after falling apart over escalating bloodshed in the war-torn country.

"I ask you to work to work together,” Staffan de Mistura told the delegates on February 23.

“I know it's not going to be easy to end this horrible conflict and lay the foundation for a country at peace with itself, sovereign and unified," de Mistura added.

He added, however, that he was not expecting major progress at the talks, which officially begin later in the evening.

Diplomats from other world powers, including the United States and Russia, were also attending the talks.

Salem al-Meslet, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee, told AFP before the meeting that his delegation was seeking direct talks with the government to "save time and be proof of seriousness."

An estimated 300,000 people have been killed and millions more have been displaced since the Syrian civil war started in 2011 following a government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP