Moscow: Talks on ending the war in Syria were set to start in Moscow Monday but the absence of key opposition groups meant there was little hope of progress in resolving the conflict.
Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, was heading the government delegation for the four days of meetings with members of the domestic “tolerated” opposition, the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC).
The talks were to begin at 0900 GMT, a source close to the negotiations told Russia’s Interfax news agency.
But the main Western-backed exiled Syrian opposition National Coalition stayed away, and another leading domestic opposition activist remains under a travel ban from Damascus.
The closed-door discussions are expected to focus on humanitarian issues and serve as a way for Russia, a main backer of the Syrian regime, to build its profile as a potential mediator in the conflict.
They follow an similar round of meetings between the government and officially tolerated opposition in Moscow in late January that failed to make any concrete progress towards resolving the deep-rooted conflict.
The sit down is the first since some of the key international players in the crisis thrashed out an outline deal over Iran’s nuclear programme and US Secretary of State John Kerry refused to rule out speaking to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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