Syria foes wrangle ahead of peace talks

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Damascus, March 14: The Syrian government says it will send a delegation to fresh peace talks due to start in Geneva on Monday, but has put limits on the agenda.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, speaking in Damascus, ruled out any debate of presidential elections.

An opposition spokesman said the government’s pre-conditions could halt the talks before they had even started.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet his German, French, and British counterparts on Sunday.

Earlier, the US said violence had fallen dramatically since a cessation of hostilities began two weeks ago.

The main Syrian opposition umbrella group, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said on Friday it would push for an interim government with full executive powers in which President Bashar al-Assad and the current leadership would have no role.

The fate of President Assad has been one of the main stumbling blocks in previous rounds of tentative talks.

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