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Syrian opposition hits out at regime talks 'refusal'

SYRIAN OPPOSITION HITS OUT AT REGIME TALKS REFUSAL

The head of the main opposition delegation at ongoing Syria talks in Geneva on Wednesday called on the UN to put pressure on the Damascus regime following its "refusal" to join in negotiations.

Speaking after meeting UN envoy Staffan de Mistura on the third day of the latest round of Syria peace talks, Nasr al-Hariri told reporters:

"What we see is the refusal of the regime to participate in political negotiations. It will not involve itself in political discussions or negotiations. We asked the Syrian envoy to hold to his responsibility to defend a serious political process.

"We have provided our political positions in detail about transition. If there is to be a real intention to have political transition, the regime must be held responsible for engaging in this process. We are asking the United Nations to put pressure on the regime and its allies to negotiate seriously."

On uniting the opposition groups at the peace talks in Geneva, Hariri said: "We have opened the door with the Moscow/Cairo group. This is out of our own will, not under pressure.

"These discussions are ongoing. We have found some common ground. These discussions are important and serious and are happening for the first time. We have been able to come up with agreements on some issues and some issues have not been discussed yet."

The seventh round of Syrian peace talks began on Monday. The Bashar al-Assad regime team is headed by Bashar al-Jaafari, and the main opposition delegation is headed by Nasr al-Hariri.

According to the UN, this round of talks will focus on four topics -- Syria's constitution, governance, elections and the fight against terrorism -- the same issues which have been discussed previously.

This May, the sixth round of talks ended without progress.

Since civil war in Syria erupted in March 2011, more than 250,000 people have been killed, according to the UN. The Syrian Center for Policy Research puts the death toll at more than 470,000.

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