Delayed Syria peace talks to resume next week: UN

UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is in Russia for meetings with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as the UN gears up for Geneva talks (AFP Photo/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Geneva (AFP) - Delayed UN-sponsored peace talks aimed at ending Syria's civil war will resume on February 23 in Geneva, a few days later than previously planned, the UN envoy's office said Monday.

The announcement came a day after Syria's opposition announced its 21-member delegation for the new round of talks, which had been due to start next Monday, February 20.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura had already announced a delay in the planned resumption from February 8 to February 20, to give the opposition more time to prepare.

Last week he had warned the opposition that he would pick their delegates himself if they could not decide on time.

De Mistura's office said Monday that delegations representing the Syrian government and the opposition are set to arrive in Geneva around February 20 for "prior consultations" with the UN envoy.

The negotiations will then start on February 23, his office said in a statement.

The talks are aimed at ending the nearly six-year war in Syria that has killed more than 310,000 people.

Ahead of the Geneva talks, Kazakhstan has invited Syrian rebels and government officials back to its capital Astana this week.

The Kazakhstan talks are being brokered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey, which are all key players in the conflict.

The meeting in Astana last month ended without a breakthrough.

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