UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi gestures during a press briefing on peace talks at the United Nations on January 29, 2014 in Geneva. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)
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International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday that he does not expect to achieve anything substantive in the first round of Syria talks ending on Friday, but hoped for a more productive second round starting about a week later.The Syrian government delegation, which had earlier submitted its own document that it wanted the talks to focus on, said it would use the Geneva communique, with reservations.While the opposition wants to start by addressing the question of the transitional governing body that the talks aim to create, the government says the first step is to discuss "terrorism". The Geneva communique refers to the government and "armed opposition groups", but there is no mention of "terrorism" or "terrorists", terms used by the Syrian government to describe those fighting to overthrow Assad.The opposition wants the government to allow in a U.N. aid convoy for 2,500 people under siege in the Old City of Homs, but the government has said it needs to be sure the food and medicine will not go to armed groups or terrorists.Damascus has said women and children may leave the Old City of Homs but that it wants the opposition to provide a list of men seeking to do so, before they may leave, Brahimi said this week.
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