26 Nov 2013

Syrian talks to be held in Geneva

8:58 am on 26 November 2013

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says talks on the Syrian conflict will start in Geneva on 22 January. Both the government and the opposition will attend.

The UN, the United States and Russia have been trying for months to get both sides to agree a political solution to the conflict.

But there have been disputes over who should represent the opposition and the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

The BBC reports it will the first time that representatives from the Mr Assad's regime and the rebels will meet at such talks since the civil war began almost three years ago.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mr Ban expressed deep appreciation for the work of US and Russian diplomats, as well as the UN special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.

"We will go to Geneva with a mission of hope," the statement said.

Mr Brahimi has asked the Syrian government and the opposition to name their delegates for the conference.

Mr Ban later warned all parties that they should go to Geneva "with a serious intention'' to end the war.

Meanwhile, the Interfax news agency reports Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Iran should also take part in the talks, but there was no final agreement on that issue.