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Syrian government and opposition agree to hold peace talks at Geneva in January

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon announced that the Syrian government and representatives of the opposition will meet in Geneva in January, to hold talks to end the civil-war that has ravaged the country. This is the first time that the government and the opposition have agreed to share the table to negotiate a peace deal.

Previous attempts had failed, as the two sides refused to acknowledge representatives of both parties. The UN Secretary General has appealed to the parties to make way for the deal by shunning violence and by providing access to humanitarian aid convoys in war-torn regions.

"We go with a clear understanding: the Geneva conference is the vehicle for a peaceful transition that fulfils the legitimate aspirations of all the Syrian people for freedom and dignity', Mr Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement in New York on Monday.

The Geneva talks are proposed to be held on 22nd January onwards, with the goal of instituting a transitional government in the country. Mr Ban Ki-Moon did not come clear on who will represent the Syrian opposition at Geneva. The Syrian government had in the past refused to acknowledge the west endorsed Syrian National Council (SNC), as the opposition.

Internal sources at the UN however reported that the opposition would be represented by the SNC members themselves. SNC is battling criticism from domestic sources that it is non-representative of the numerous rebel groups including Taliban and al-Qaida, fighting against the Syrian military. But it being the only organized opposition, stands an advantage over other groups.

The main challenge at the talks will be to reach an agreement on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s role in the transitional government. The opposition has demanded a transitional government free of Assad. The Syrian government has however insisted that Assad will remain in charge and will also contest in the presidential elections scheduled in 2014.

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