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Syria peace talks to focus on prisoner releases

Delegations from the Syrian regime and the opposition will resume talks mediator Lakhdar Brahimi acting as a go-between

Published: Updated:

Syria’s warring sides are expected to discuss prisoner releases at a second day of face-to-face peace talks in Geneva on Sunday.

Delegations from the Syrian regime and the opposition will resume talks mediator Lakhdar Brahimi acting as a go-between, after the two warring sides sat together in the same room for the first time on Saturday.

Brahimi has expressed hopes that both sides can strike a deal on sending aid convoys on Sunday or Monday to Homs, where hundreds of families in the Old City are living under siege with near-daily shelling and the barest of supplies.

“If we achieve success on Homs we hope that this will be the beginning,” Brahimi said, adding that the first discussions were a “good beginning.”

Despite the failure to agree on any concrete proposals, Saturday still marked progress after President Bashar al-Assad’s regime on Friday accused the opposition of obstructing the negotiations and threatened to walk away.

Pulled together by the United Nations, Russia and the United States, the two sides are meeting in the biggest diplomatic push yet to stem Syria’s bloodshed after nearly three years of civil war.

The opposition insists the talks should focus on Assad leaving power and the formation of a transitional government based on an agreement reached during a first peace conference in Geneva in 2012.

The regime says Assad’s role is not up for debate at this conference -- dubbed Geneva II -- and denies that the initial Geneva deal requires him to go.

(With AFP)