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UN-Backed Syria Peace Talks to Restart in Geneva

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Syrian rivals were to resume UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva on Thursday, with escalating violence and deadlock on key issues dimming hopes of a breakthrough.

Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura tried to strike an optimistic note when the previous round ended last month.

He insisted government and opposition negotiators had agreed on a "clear agenda" and that "everything is ready" for the talks to move forward.

On the agenda for this round are issues of governance -- a political transition, the constitution and elections, as well as counter-terrorism at the request of Damascus.

But an already-fragile ceasefire had deteriorated further in recent days after the opposition and allied extremist militants launched two surprise offensives on government positions in Damascus and central Hama province.

The UN talks aim to find a solution to end a six-year conflict that had martyred more than 320,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011.

The main opposition High Negotiations Committee [HNC] arrived in Geneva on Wednesday. The government delegation led by Syria's UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari was also due to land in the Swiss city.

De Mistura is scheduled to be in Ankara on Thursday as part of a pre-talks diplomatic tour of the key powers shaping the conflict, which has also included trips to Moscow and Riyadh.

The UN's deputy Syria envoy, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy will meet the rival camps in Geneva "to prepare the round ahead", the UN said.

So far, there is no plan for the government and opposition to meet face-to-face.

De Mistura said he wants to unify the HNC with two smaller opposition camps -- known as the Moscow and Cairo platforms -- before presenting the government with a single opposition delegation.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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