United Nations foresees Syria talks delay in Geneva

GENEVA, 22nd January 2016 (WAM) --- Syria peace talks scheduled to begin January 25 will likely be delayed by a few days. World powers working to shepherd the parties are hung up trying to write the guest list.

The UN announced that the latest talks to end Syria's five-year civil war might face new delays as world powers dispute whom they will allow to represent the opposition. The Bashar al-Assad regime has killed an estimated 400,000 people and forced several million civilians from their homes after peaceful protests began in early 2011. The UN puts the number of recorded deaths at just 250,000.

"It's likely that the date of the 25th might slip by a few days simply for practical reasons," Farhan Haq, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said Thursday.

Haq said UN officials would re-evaluate preparations over the weekend and make a decision about the Monday start of the talks in Geneva.

US Secretary of State John Kerry backed up Haq's assessment that any delay would prove minor, according to Germany's international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle.

"It may be a day or two for invitations but there is not going to be a fundamental delay," Kerry said Thursday. "The process will begin on the 25th, and they will get together and see where we are," he added.


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