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Syria govt. presents amendments to UN document

Syrian Ambassador to the UN and head of the government delegation Bashar al-Ja'afari (C) attends a meeting during peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, April 15, 2016. (Reuters photo)

The head of the Syrian government delegation to the peace talks in Geneva hailed Friday his meeting with the UN special envoy for Syria as “constructive,” saying he had handed Staffan de Mistura amendments on the guiding principles set in the last round of negotiations.

Bashar al-Ja’afari said his meeting with de Mistura focused on submitting amendments on 12 common guiding principles that were set in a UN document at the last round of talks last month.

He said discussions on those adjustments with the UN are expected to be held on Monday.

The news comes as a new round of UN-brokered peace talks kicked off in Geneva on Wednesday.

Ja'afari hailed the nearly two-hour meeting with de Mistura as “constructive and fruitful.” However, he declined to take questions, saying "There is not much to say now."

The last round of the UN-backed peace talks came to a halt on March 24 over disagreements on the role of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s future.

The foreign-backed opposition says Assad must step down before a transitional government can be established.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad on Wednesday rejected the "dream" of a transitional government without President Assad, saying that such ideas are nothing short of a "coup d’état."

According to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people since March 2011. The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, however, puts the number at about 270,000.

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