Two Syria opposition leaders arrive in Geneva for talks

Chief opposition negotiator Mohammad Alloush said there have been 350 violations since the truce began, which showed the regime was "not serious" about the ceasefire (AFP Photo/Mumen Khatib) (AFP/File)

Geneva (AFP) - Two leaders from the Syrian opposition delegation arrived in Geneva on Saturday ahead of peace talks due to resume next week, AFP correspondents reported.

Mohammed Alloush, a leading member of Islamist rebel group the Army of Islam and nominally chief negotiator for the umbrella opposition High Negotiations Committee, was seen at a Geneva hotel along with HNC delegation chief Asaad al-Zoabi.

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem had warned earlier Saturday that the government delegation to the fragile peace talks would wait no longer than 24 hours for the opposition to arrive.

Several other opposition figures, such as Hassan Abdel Azim, have also arrived in Geneva to take part in the talks which are due to open on Monday.

The relaunch of the UN-brokered talks, which collapsed in February, has been made possible by a landmark ceasefire between the regime and rebels that began across parts of Syria two weeks ago.

During the previous round of the talks, the HNC delegation arrived in Switzerland roughly 36 hours after the government, but waited another two days before heading to the UN headquarters.

Both the government and the HNC have agreed to participate in the fresh round of indirect negotiations, the latest push by the international community to find a solution to a five-year war that has killed more than 270,000 people.

UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura said Monday's talks would start the countdown to UN-monitored presidential and parliamentary elections in Syria within 18 months.

But Muallem said de Mistura "has no right" to discuss future presidential elections.

"Neither he nor anyone else, whoever they may be, has the right to discuss presidential elections. This right is exclusively for the Syrian people," the top diplomat said.

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