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France says UN-led Syria peace talks in Vienna symbolize 'final hope'

France says UN-led Syria peace talks in Vienna symbolize 'final hope'”

"Tomorrow (Saturday) there is going to be a press conference by the head of the SNC and he will give you the decision about Sochi, if there is going to be participation or not", said Syrian Negotiations Commission (SNC) spokesman Yahya al-Aridi.

A United Nations spokeswoman said the Syrian government delegation was due to meet with United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura at 11:30 am (1030 GMT).

United Nations -brokered peace talks with the Syrian government and opposition began on Thursday, days before Syria's close ally Russian Federation was due to host separate negotiations that the West views with suspicion.

On Thursday, the delegation held a meeting with de Mistura in addition to two separate meetings with the Director of Middle East and North Africa Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Vershinin and the Executive Director of the UN Office in Vienna Yury Fedotov.

Few expect a breakthrough at these two-days talks aimed at addressing issues related to a new constitution, but de Mistura, has continued to express optimism.

The brutal Syrian war, which has claimed more than 340,000 lives since 2011, has grown even more complex over the past week with Turkey launching a ground operation against Kurdish fighters in northern Afrin.

The event will be held in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29-30, with invitations to participate sent to UN representatives and observers from Great Britain, China, the United States and France - as permanent member of the UN Security Council, as well as to Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will also attend.

Moscow initially hoped to convene peace talks in Sochi last November but those efforts collapsed following a lack of agreement among co-sponsors.

"The Russians have done everything to weaken the Geneva process".

"We want to put Geneva back at the centre of the game and that's what we agreed", said a French diplomatic source.

"The opposition has no reason to go to Sochi if the Russians don't win any commitments from Damascus".

Battles were raging on in Eastern Ghouta over the past two months when the al-Qaida-linked group and allied militants launched attacks on a key Syrian military base in Harasta in Eastern Ghouta.



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