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Peace envoy to Syria: No talks without opposition

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By The Associated Press
Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 8:30 p.m.

DAMASCUS — The international envoy to Syria called on the divided opposition Friday to overcome differences and agree to attend peace talks with President Bashar Assad's government, warning the negotiations cannot go forward without them.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who wrapped up his five-day visit to Damascus, appeared uncertain about prospects for the meeting expected to take place this month in Geneva.

The deeply fractured Syrian opposition groups are split on whether to attend the talks. They also disagree over conditions for taking part — from demands that Assad step down right away to guarantees that he would not be part of a negotiated solution for the country's future. The opposition is split between Damascus-based groups, who have said they will attend without preconditions, and the exiled opposition, which is more hard-line.

The government has rejected demands that Assad step aside, saying he will stay at least until the end of his term in mid-2014, and will then decide whether to seek re-election. Assad has said he will not negotiate with armed rebels.

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