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Published: Saturday January 25, 2014 MYT 6:35:02 PM
Updated: Saturday January 25, 2014 MYT 6:35:02 PM

Syrian government and opposition meet in presence of mediator

Syrian opposition delegation arrive for a meeting with U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (not seen) at a U.N. office in Geneva January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

Syrian opposition delegation arrive for a meeting with U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (not seen) at a U.N. office in Geneva January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

GENEVA (Reuters) - Syrian government and opposition delegations met briefly in the presence of international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi at the United Nations on Saturday, their first session of talks aimed at launching political negotiations to end Syria's civil war.

"The first session has ended - Brahimi spoke for 30 minutes and none of the delegates said anything," opposition delegate Anas al-Abdah told reporters after the meeting.

The two sides entered and left the room through separate doors, Abdah added, and were due to meet again at 4 p.m. (1500 GMT) for talks on humanitarian issues.

He said Brahimi told them the first two days of the talks will focus on negotiations to lift sieges of civilians including in the central city of Homs, local ceasefires and humanitarian access, but the core of the negotiations should be about resolving the three-year conflict.

"He (Brahimi) told us this is a political conference ... based on Geneva 1," Abdah said, referring to a June 2012 communiqué which called for the establishment of a transitional governing body in Syria.

(Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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