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Kerry confident Syria talks can proceed

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir (3rd L, standing) walks up to talk with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the start of a ministerial meeting on Syria at the Quai d'Orsay, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Paris December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool

By David Brunnstrom | Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday he was confident Syria peace talks would proceed, after he held talks with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in Saudi Arabia.

“We are confident that with good initiative in the next day or so those talks can get going and that the U.N. representative special envoy, Staffan De Mistura, will be convening people in an appropriate manner for the proximity talks that will be the first meeting in Geneva,” he told reporters in Riyadh.

The Syria peace talks are planned to begin on Jan. 25 in Geneva, but there is uncertainty around the date, partly because of a dispute over who will be part of the opposition delegation.

Kerry said major countries would convene after the first round of negotiations.

“I won’t announce a date, but we all agreed that immediately after completion of the first round of the Syria discussions, the International Syria Support Group will convene, and that will be very shortly, because we want to keep the process moving,” he said.

Peace efforts face huge underlying challenges, among them disagreements over President Bashar al-Assad’s future and worsening relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Get the rest at Reuters

(Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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