Talks to assess Syria peace conference prospects

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The international envoy for Syria will meet in Geneva with Russian and U.S. officials to assess prospects for getting President Bashar Assad's government and a united opposition delegation to a peace conference.

Lakhdar Brahimi will first meet Tuesday with Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov and U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday.

They will then meet with officials from the other permanent Security Council nations — Britain, France and China, he said. One obstacle is the opposition Syrian National Coalition's demand that Assad step down in any transitional Syrian government as a condition to attending a new Geneva conference.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will convene the peace conference, has said his aim is to hold the meeting in November.

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