Syria's warring sides will not sit in the same room for the start of talks in Geneva Friday despite efforts by UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi to bring them together, officials said.
Brahimi spent Thursday in separate closed-door meetings with delegations from President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the opposition, trying to convince them to come together for their first talks since the start of Syria's civil war.
But UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told reporters that Brahimi would instead meet with the Syrian government delegation at 11:00 am (1000 GMT) and then the opposition at 4:00 pm.
"Both meetings will be bilateral," she said.
"You have to understand that the peace process is being shaped at the moment. You have to be patient," Vellucci said, when pressed by reporters for details of the talks.
"This process is shaping up, so there have been changes to previous declarations," she said. "We are going step by step."
Sources within the two delegations told AFP the opposition had balked at sitting with the regime, insisting the government accept the need for a transition government without Assad before face-to-face talks.