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Syria opposition pin hopes on Trump after 'catastrophic' Obama

The United Nations envoy to Syria is working round the clock in a bid to secure a modest victory in the fourth round of talks held in Geneva.

As was the case in previous years, Bashar al-Jaafari, the lead negotiator for the Assad government, has stressed that the focus of the talks should be on fighting terrorism, not on a political transition from Assad's rule that the United States had demanded in previous years or the milder political reforms that Russian Federation has been promoting.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Tuesday a U.N. Security Council resolution put forward by Western powers to punish Syria's government over its alleged use of chemical weapons would harm peace talks in Geneva.

The U.N. -led negotiations edged forwards on Wednesday, for the first time in six days, as both sides saw hope of shaping the agenda to their liking, but with indirect talks wrapping up this weekend there is little prospect of any real breakthrough.

While Western envoys were coordinating with the Syrian opposition in Geneva, the US envoy kept his head down and left after a few days to deal with other issues.

Five days into a round of discussions meant to take place between delegations representing the Syrian government and the opposition, government and opposition negotiators still have not met.

"It has tried to be neutral. we see an openness in their position, especially vis-a-vis the revolutionary moderate factions", he said, referring to moderate rebels.

He wants the focus in Geneva to be a new constitution, United Nations -supervised elections and accountable governance, based on Security Council resolution 2254.

A source close to the government delegation said that talks had been constructive and led to "an agreement on four equally important baskets" that included terrorism.

"We absolutely do not refuse to discuss terrorism", he added.

Russia, Turkey and Iran held two rounds of meetings with the warring sides in Astana over the past month in an effort to firm up a failing ceasefire, which has steadily fallen apart in recent weeks.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura initially defined three issues of the talks - governance, constitution, and elections.

Government forces launched attacks around Qaboun in the days leading up to the current round of peace talks, the fiercest assault there for more than two years, according to the Observatory and a medical worker in the area.

"The Geneva talks seem to be something that everyone wants because they want to have talks", said Aron Lund, a fellow at the USA -based Century Foundation think tank. "But if the USA vacuum continues, I think Mr.de Mistura will face a lot of obstacles on the way to a political solution".

Russian Federation has taken over the diplomatic process surrounding the war in Syria since its air force helped government troops defeat rebels in Aleppo, dealing the opposition its largest loss of the war.

"Logically speaking, why would the regime give up something in Geneva that the armed opposition failed to gain militarily on the ground?" asked Jihad Makdissi, who leads a separate opposition organization called the Cairo Group. I was impressed by the level of depth we were able to get.



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