United Nations hosts fresh Syria talks in Vienna

Vienna Hosts New Inter-Syria Talks Under UN Auspices

Vienna Hosts New Inter-Syria Talks Under UN Auspices

Opposition spokesman at the United Nations talks in Vienna, Yahya al-Aridi said the Sochi talks were an attempt to undermine the United Nations efforts to broker a peace deal: "This whole round in Vienna was supposed to be a crucial one, a test for commitment".

De Mistura has presided over a series of Syrian talks in Geneva, with a mandate to discuss new elections, reformed governance, a new constitution and the fight against terrorism.

"The HNC announces the boycott of the Sochi conference that Russian Federation had invited it to", it stated on its Twitter account in Arabic on Friday.

"All external supporters of the political process should encourage the opposition and government delegations to engage genuinely in the talks, focus squarely on these topics and, at least initially, set aside other issues", it said.

"Then it will be up to him to take the decision what will be the U.N. response to the invitation to attend Sochi", U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said in a statement to reporters.

The peace conference is expected to bring together about 1,500 participants.

Two months ahead of Russia's presidential vote, Putin is hoping to show a foreign policy victory after securing a Syria military victory on the ground.

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The Sochi peace congress was announced after their last meeting in December.

SNC spokesman Yahya Aridi said during a meeting on Syrian settlement in the United Nations headquarters in Vienna on Friday that the group would announce its decision regarding the congress on Saturday.

Global concern has been rising over the fate of eastern Ghouta, where the United Nations says acute food and medicine shortages have contributed to the worst malnutrition seen in the Syrian civil war.

Two weeks ago, Turkey launched air strikes and shelling against Kurdish militias in northern Syria, marking a unsafe new escalation in the conflict.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Britain and France have put forward a proposal that would involve strengthening the role of Syria's prime minister - at the expense of Assad's authority, according to a leaked document circulated online.

The talks will last for two days.

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