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Syrian government negotiator quits Geneva talks, says may not return

Syrian government negotiator quits Geneva talks, says may not return
From Reuters - December 1, 2017

GENEVA (Reuters) - Syrias government delegation quit U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva on Friday and said it might not return next week, blaming the oppositions rejection of any role for President Bashar al-Assad in any interim post-war government.

For us (this) round is over, as a government delegation. He as mediator he can announce his own opinion, government chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari said after a morning of talks, referring to U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura who made no immediate comment.

As long as the other side sticks to the language of Riyadh 2 ..., there will be no progress, Jaafari said.

He was referring to a position adopted by Syrian opposition delegates at a meeting in Riyadh last week, in which they stuck to their demand that Assad be excluded from any transitional government.

Previously there had been some speculation the opposition could soften its stance ahead of this weeks Geneva negotiations, in response to government advances on the battlefield.

The Syrian civil war, now in its seventh year, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven 11 million from their homes. So far all previous rounds of peace talks have failed to make progress, faltering over the oppositions demand Assad leave power and his refusal to go.

Pressed whether the government delegation would return to Geneva next week, Jaafari replied: Damascus will decide.

Jaafari said the statement insisting Assad leave power that was adopted by the opposition in Riyadh ahead of this weeks peace talks was a mine on the road to Geneva, and the opposition had purposefully undermined the negotiations.

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