An attempt at peace

For the first time in three years since the civil war began in Syria, the government and the opposition met with a special UN represenative

Geneva: The Syrian government and the country's opposition held direct Saturday for the first time since the civil war began three years ago.

Smoke rises from buildings following alleged bombings by regime forces on the city of Daraya, early this month. Syria's war has killed more than 130,000 people and forced millions more to flee their homes. Pic/AFP

According to sources from the UN Information Service of Geneva, the two warring sides "are now meeting together with the joint special representative at the UN office at Geneva".

Lakhdar Brahimi is the joint special representative of the UN and the Arab League to Syria.

It is the first time in three years that the two sides are having a direct dialogue despite a rocky start to the Geneva II conference, which began on Wednesday in the lakeside Swiss city of Montreux. "We came for that," said Bashar Ja'afari, permanent representative of Syria to the UN.

"We came with a positive spirit and an open mind to discuss everything with the other delegation. This is why we are here."

He noted that the core issues might not be discussed on the first day of direct talks. "Today is about format," he said.

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