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Syria foes say Geneva talks 'positive'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Syria's opposition said peace talks with President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Geneva took a step forward on Wednesday with discussions on a transitional government after four days of deadlock.

The regime delegation also said that "positive" talks had started on the Geneva I communique -- the statement put out by global powers during talks here in 2012 -- while stressing that the focus was on ending violence and "stopping terrorism".

"Today we had a positive step forward because for the first time now we are talking about the transitional governing body, to end dictatorship and end the fighting and the misery in Syria," opposition delegation spokesman Louay Safi told reporters.

He added that he hoped for "more progress in the coming days".

"We have not really discussed details, but the general framework for the discussions about the transitional governing body," he said, adding that among the topics would be the size, responsibilities and timeframe of a transitional body.

Regime delegation member Buthaina Shaaban confirmed that talks on the Geneva communique had begun, but said "the first item is to stop violence which now has turned into terrorism."

Pointing to extremist Islamist groups among rebel forces, the regime has accused the opposition and its foreign supporters of backing "terrorism" in the mold of Al-Qaeda.

"The talks have been positive today actually, because they spoke about terrorism, they spoke about Geneva I," Shaaban said.

"The only difference between us and them, which is a major difference, is we want to discuss Geneva I item by item starting from the first item.... They want to jump to the item that speaks about the transitional government, and they're only interested in being in government, while what we are interested in is to stop this horrid war."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140129/syria-foes-say-geneva-talks-positive