BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:30 P.M.) – UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura welcomed both Syrian government and opposition parties to Geneva on Thursday and told delegates they would hold “close proximity parallel meetings”.
Nasr al-Hariri, head of the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee and the Syrian government’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Jaafari arrived separately and entered different rooms.
De Mistura is hoping to bring the two sides together for direct, face-to-face talks.
Negotiations began earlier this week and are expected to continue throughout the day.
Since March 2011, Syria has been in the throes of a conflict that has forced more than half of all Syrians to leave their homes.
An estimated five million Syrians have fled the country and more than six million are internally displaced.
The crisis, described as the worst humanitarian disaster of our time with more than 13 million people in need of assistance, has caused untold suffering.