Kerry says no direct meetings to start Syria peace talks

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FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2016 file photo, Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at National Defense University in Washington. Kerry will be heading back to Europe next week at the start of an around-the-world diplomatic mission that will also take him to the Middle East and Asia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at National Defense University in Washington. Kerry will travel to Europe next week for a diplomatic mission that includes planned Syria peace talks. (Associated Press)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says opposing sides will not initially meet face-to-face in planned Syria peace talks in Geneva next week.

The top U.S. diplomat says the first U.N.-brokered meeting in the Swiss city will be “proximity talks” in which representatives of the government and opposition will gather separately.

The talks have been tentatively planned to take place on Monday, but diplomats say that could slip by a few days.

The cautious step-by-step approach to the talks points to the delicate task faced by U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who is eager to make concrete progress toward ending the nearly five-year-old war that has claimed more than 250,000 lives.

 

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