|Syrian Information Minister Omran Al-Zohbi (1st R) prepares to attend the meeting with UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 24, 2014. UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will meet delegations from the Syrian government and the opposition separately on Friday, a UN spokeswoman has confirmed. The mediator might need a few weeks to prepare for direct talks between the conflicting sides in Geneva. (Xinhua/Qian Yi)
GENEVA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will meet delegations from the Syrian government and the opposition separately on Friday, a UN spokeswoman has confirmed.
Alessandra Vellucci from the UN office in Geneva told the media that Brahimi, the UN-Arab League joint special representative for Syria, will meet the Syrian government delegation led by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem at 11 a.m. local time (1000 GMT), and talk with the opposition at 4 p.m. (1500 GMT).
"As Mr. Brahimi has announced in Montreux, the process of negotiation didn't go on as foreseen in the beginning," she said, adding the mediator might need a few weeks to prepare for direct talks between the conflicting sides in Geneva.
The international conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva II, kicked off Wednesday in the lakeside Swiss city of Montreux, and formal peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition is slated for Friday in Geneva.
The spokeswoman didn't disclose who should be responsible for the change of schedule.
"There have been changes and there will be changes," she said. "For the moment, we are going step by step."
Brahimi met the heads of the two Syrian delegations Thursday afternoon: first Ahmed Jarba, from the opposition Syrian National Coalition, followed by al-Moallem. But there is no immediate report on what was discussed.
The UN-backed Geneva II aims to end the three-year-long conflict in Syria, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives acoording to the UN. It has brought the bitter rivals together at the negotiating table for the first time.
However, the ministerial meeting in Montreux saw the two sides clash, dampening hopes for a breakthrough in the issue.
A focus of the crossfire is the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Al-Moallem said upon his arrival in Geneva Tuesday evening that subjects related to the status of the president were "red-lines" and could not be touched. He stressed that anti-terrorism should top the agenda.
However, Jarba told reporters Thursday the negotiations would be long and difficult, and would look at all the "core issues" as a package deal, including the creation of a transitional governing body. He said he was looking to a future without al-Assad.
But diplomats noted the key was to ensure both sides continue talking.
The Syrian government hoped to reach an agreement with the opposition, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi told Xinhua.
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