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Friday 23 March 2018

Face-to-face Syria talks underway

President Bashar Assad
President Bashar Assad

The first face-to-face meeting between Syria's government and the opposition hoping to overthrow president Bashar Assad has started.

After tense days spent avoiding each other and meeting separately with a UN mediator, Mr Assad's hand-picked delegation and representatives of the Syrian National Coalition were gathering in the same room on Saturday in hopes of ultimately finding a path out of the civil war.

The two sides were distant going into the meeting, with the Damascus delegation denying it had accepted the premise of a transitional leadership, and the opposition saying it would accept nothing less.

"We'll try our best to make it as successful as possible," said Anas al-Abdeh, a member of the Syrian National Coalition's negotiating team.

Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal al-Mikdad said Saturday would focus on "modest ideas".

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