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Syrian Opposition "Not Against" Direct Talks with Government - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), gestures before a meeting with U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura during Syria peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), gestures before a meeting with U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura during Syria peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Syria’s opposition are “not against” direct talks with the country’s government, Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the main Syrian opposition alliance in Geneva said on Tuesday.

“We are not against direct talks, but you know de Mistura decided to start with indirect talks,” Muslat said.

Muslat was speaking shortly before negotiators for the main opposition High Negotiations Committee met U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura for the first time in what is expected to be a 10-day round of indirect “proximity talks” between the warring sides.

De Mistura said he wanted to meet the two sides separately in order to alleviate the differences between them, ahead of a further meeting on Wednesday which would focus on core issues.

Muslat expects de Mistura to shift to a format of direct talks at a later stage, but said that would be up to de Mistura. The U.N. mediator has said he plans to have three rounds of talks, culminating in a clear roadmap for the path ahead.

“By then we believe we should have at least a clear roadmap,” de Mistura previously said. “I’m not saying agreement, but a clear roadmap because that’s what Syria is expecting from all of us.”

De Mistura has said the “proximity” format ensures him a lot of flexibility to shuttle between the two warring parties and to consult others on the sidelines, but he has not said whether either the government or the HNC had refused to sit down with each other.

“As long as we have a solution, as long as we have relief for our people we don’t mind what form the negotiation is,” Muslat said.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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