22:27 GMT +316 December 2018
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    Syrian pro-government forces celebrate on a street in the town of Sheikh Miskeen in southern Daraa province on January 26, 2016 after they retook the strategic town from rebel forces

    Intra-Syrian Talks May Last More Than Six Months - Russia's Gatilov

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    The announced six-months deadline for intra-Syrian reconciliation talks could be extended as the negotiating process between Damascus and the Syrian opposition is very complicated, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Tuesday.

    GENEVA (Sputnik) — UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced prior to the start of Geneva talks last Friday that he was aiming to wrap up the talks in about six months with the first phase focusing on ceasefire, fight against Daesh and other terrorist groups and humanitarian aid to areas in Syria devastated by civil war.

    "Considering the complexity of all aspects of existing problems, we must not be fixated on strict deadlines…Even if they last longer but there is progress, and everybody sees that there is movement in a desired direction, then, perhaps, it would be reasonable to continue these contacts and talks," Gatilov told reporters in Geneva.

    Syrian Opposition Uncertainty on Representation at Proximity Talks Problematic

    The Syrian opposition cannot determine who will represent it at the talks in Geneva, and this poses a problem, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Tuesday.

    "One of the problems is that the opposition itself is unfortunately unable to determine who will represent it at these negotiations. This is an important factor, because a lot will depend from the composition of the delegation in political terms," Gatilov told reporters.

    Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was seeking the Syrian opposition to be represented by all groups at the proximity talks in Geneva.

    Earlier, Gatilov said a wide representation of the Syrian opposition was necessary in Geneva, with "equal status" of all members.

    The talks between the Syrian government and the representatives of the Syrian opposition formally started in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations on Friday. The talks are carried out in line with the December UN Security Council's resolution on Syrian settlement and are expected to last six months.


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