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Syrian civil war foes meet for first time, focus on aid

Published on Jan 25, 2014 10:00 PM

GENEVA (REUTERS) - Syria's civil war foes held their first face-to-face meeting on Saturday at the start of talks to end nearly three years of conflict which has killed 130,000 people and destabilised the wider Middle East.

After a day of delay and fierce recrimination, government and opposition delegates faced each other across a negotiating table at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva in the presence of international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

The two delegations sat in silence for half an hour while Mr Brahimi set out his plans - an immediate focus on humanitarian aid which diplomats have described as a confidence-building measure, followed by political talks to resolve the conflict.

Opposition delegate Anas al-Abdah said the two sides - who entered and left the room through separate doors - would meet again later on Saturday at 4pm local time. The first item for discussion would be a deal for a short ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into besieged rebel-held areas in Homs.

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