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Syria opposition considers UN peace proposal

Orient Net - Agencies 2016-02-01 06:02:00

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Syria’s main opposition group is considering a proposal by UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura that could pave the way to the delegation pressing ahead with talks after holding their first meeting with him on Sunday, a Western diplomatic source said, News Journal Search said.

Representatives of the Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), which includes political and militant opponents of Assad, had warned earlier that they may yet walk away from the Geneva talks unless the suffering of civilians in the five-year conflict is eased.

The United Nations is aiming for six months of talks that would focus on achieving a broad ceasefire, while working toward a political settlement to the war that has killed over 250,000 people and driven more than 10 million from their homes, Trade Arabia reported.

After the HNC initially insisted air strikes and sieges of Syrian towns must end before it joins the "proximity talks", in which de Mistura would meet each side in separate rooms, there appeared to be some signs of a softening in their position on Sunday evening.

HNC spokesman Salim al-Muslat described discussions with de Mistura as very positive and encouraging "concerning humanitarian issues." The delegation met for several hours later on Sunday to debate the proposal.

The UN special envoy’s office said he would meet the Assad government delegation on Monday at 1100 (1000 GMT) and the HNC at 1700 (1600 GMT).

The delegation representing the HNC is seeking a halt to attacks on civilian areas, the release of detainees and a lifting of blockades. It has a list of 3,000 women and children in Syrian government jails, Reuters reported.

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