Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem, third left, arrives for the start of negotiations at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, January 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)
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Syria's first peace talks came close to collapsing before they began on Friday, with the opposition refusing to meet President Bashar Assad's delegation and the government threatening to bring its team home.The opposition said early on Friday that it would not meet Assad's delegation unless it first agreed to sign up to a protocol calling for a transitional administration. The government rejected the demand outright and said its negotiators would return home unless serious talks began within a day. Plans were ditched at the last minute after the opposition said the government delegation must first sign up to a 2012 protocol, known as Geneva 1, that calls for an interim government to oversee a transition to a new political order.Brahimi, who met the government team for barely an hour, was due to talk to the opposition delegation separately later on Friday.Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said his side was going to meet the opposition on Saturday.
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