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Skirting tough topics, Syrian antagonists in talks

January 25, 2014
Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — Syria's government and the Western-backed opposition say they are focusing on humanitarian aid as they meet face to face.

The two sides aren't expected to speak directly as they start their second meeting Saturday, but will address a U.N. mediator who is trying to find common ground before the two sides start to address the thorny issues of how to end Syria's civil war.

Both sides seemed to soften their approach after days of escalating rhetoric. The opposition Syrian National Coalition had focused on ousting President Bashar Assad, while the Damascus contingent zeroed in on fighting terrorism.

On Saturday, the bitterly divided Syrians said humanitarian aid would be their priority. Louay Safi, of the coalition, described the talks as "consultations — it's not negotiations."



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