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UN: Syria government returning to Geneva peace talks

This is the eighth round of intra-Syrian talks [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 December, 2017

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Bashar al-Assad's government is set to return to peace talks after its previous decision to suspend its participation in talks with the Syrian opposition.

An adviser to the UN envoy for Syria says a government delegation is expected to return to Geneva on Sunday for UN-mediated peace talks.

The delegation led by Syria's UN ambassador, Bashar al-Ja'afari, left the talks last week for a weekend pause and did not return on Tuesday - the day that UN envoy Staffan de Mistura had set for the resumption.

De Mistura adviser Michael Contet said by phone Wednesday: "We have received notification from the government that its delegation will fly to Geneva on the 10th."

The opposition has remained in Geneva and has met with de Mistura's team. Opposition spokesman Yahya Aridi acknowledged "it takes two to tango."

This eighth round of intra-Syrian talks mediated by de Mistura since early 2016 is set to end December 15.

Earlier in the week, Syrian government delegates quit the peace talks and flew back to Damascus, a move that left Russia redfaced

Russia has been a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad and helped tip the war in his favour when Moscow intervened with air support in 2015.

In recent months Moscow has ramped up peace efforts through so-called de-escalation zones in Syria, following an agreement between Turkey, Iran and Russia.

Following a shake-up of the Syrian opposition leadership, the Syrian National Coalition appear to have softened their stance on Russia's participation in peace talks.

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