Syrian talks delayed while UN seeks agreement on participants

The main opposition delegation has threatened a boycott

Delayed talks to find a lasting peace in Syria will begin in Geneva on Friday, the United Nations has said, after a standoff over who to invite.

The UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, confirmed that a “stalemate” over participants had caused the conference, due to begin yesterday, to be pushed back. He said that he would send out invitations today but declined to confirm whether Islamist rebel groups Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam – whose presence is strongly opposed by Syria and its allies in Moscow – would be included.

Mr de Mistura said initial talks would not involve direct contact between representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition. The warring factions will begin by talking separately with the aim of bringing them together. 

The main opposition delegation has threatened a boycott, arguing it cannot sit with the Syrian government while its areas are bombed.

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