BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s negotiating team is set to arrive in Geneva on Sunday to participate in peace talks, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported on Thursday, quoting a foreign ministry source.
The delegation, led by Bashar al-Ja‘afari, walked out last week and returned to Damascus. Negotiations resumed on Wednesday without the Syrian government delegation.
The talks began last week and after a few days with little apparent progress, the U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura said that the government delegation was returning to Damascus to “consult and refresh”.
The government delegation blamed its departure on the opposition’s uncompromising stance on Assad’s future. Last month, the opposition drew up a statement in a meeting in Riyadh that rejected any future role for Assad in Syria.
During last week’s sessions, de Mistura shuttled between the representatives of the two warring sides, who did not meet face-to-face. He had planned to continue the round until Dec. 15.
The opposition negotiating team arrived at the U.N. offices in Geneva on Wednesday morning to resume talks with de Mistura.
France accused the Syrian government on Wednesday of obstructing the peace talks with its refusal to return to Geneva and called on Russia not to shrink its responsibilities to get Damascus to the negotiating table.
Reporting by Sarah Dadouch; Editing by Angus MacSwan