UN says talks with Syria regime 'rescheduled'
GENEVA - Agence France-Presse
AP photoTalks between the UN special envoy for Syria and government representatives tentatively planned for Feb. 1 11:00 am (1000 GMT) in Geneva have been "rescheduled" to allow talks with the opposition first, the UN said.
Khawla Mattar, spokeswoman for special envoy Staffan de Mistura, told AFP there was "the need to meet" with opposition first, and that a meeting with the government would happen "maybe another day".
Discussions with the opposition umbrella group the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) were still expected to take place at the UN's European headquarters at 5:00 pm (1600 GMT), the UN said.
The HNC, which only reluctantly showed up late Jan. 30 and held informal talks with de Mistura on Jan. 31 in a Geneva hotel, is hesitating about entering formal indirect talks envisioned under a November roadmap agreed by outside powers.
It is demanding first that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime allows humanitarian access to besieged towns, stops bombarding civilians and releases prisoners.
The regime's chief envoy, Bashar al-Jaafari, who arrived in Geneva on Jan. 29 when he held talks with de Mistura, said Jan. 31 the HNC was "not serious".
The hoped-for "proximity talks" are the biggest push to date to chart a way out of the tangled almost five-year-old war that has killed more than 260,000 people and forced millions from their homes.