WORLD

Syrian opposition urges regime to participate in talks

SYRIAN OPPOSITION URGES REGIME TO PARTICIPATE IN TALKS

The unified Syrian opposition delegation in Geneva on Wednesday urged the regime to participate in ongoing peace talks.

"We have had our fifth session of this round. We have discussed the first basket on political transition, about how relations should be in the institutions.

"This is in the context of the constitution and electoral processes," opposition delegation spokesman Yahya Aridi told reporters on Wednesday at the UN in Geneva after meeting the UN deputy envoy on Syria, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy.

"Our people deserve the right to their freedom to express their views whether they are [in] Syria or the rest of the world. This discussion shows our seriousness about bringing peace to Syria and the irresponsibility of the other side towards Syria," Aridi said.

About the Syrian regime delegation which has not yet participated in the talks this week, Aridi said: "They should bring their delegation here. We will stay as long as it takes."

The UN-backed Syrian peace talks restarted in Geneva on Tuesday without the regime delegation after the Syrian government team left last week without confirming it would return. Opposition delegates had insisted that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad should not be part of an interim government.

"It is the responsibility of the international community and the special envoy to announce to the world which party is rejecting negotiation," the chief opposition negotiator Nasr al-Hariri told reporters on Tuesday after meeting with the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Last month, de Mistura proposed direct talks between the sides with no preconditions. The unified opposition accepted the offer but the regime delegation refused.

The latest round of talks began on Nov. 28 with meetings between de Mistura and the opposition. The regime delegates conferred with de Mistura a day later.

This eighth round of peace talks will continue to Dec. 15.

The negotiations' "four baskets" -- a new constitution, governance, elections and combating terrorism -- have been discussed, as well as issues such as detainees, abductees, missing persons and humanitarian Access.

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