Syrian rebels urge Trump to correct Obama's "catastrophic mistakes"

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Speaking to reporters United Nations diplomat Staffan De Mistura called the round of talks substantive and said the parties had agreed to hold talks in March to discuss to settle the conflict through political means. "The U.S. remains committed to any process that can result in a political resolution to the Syrian crisis".

"We are really waiting for the United States to build their positions on true information to have an active role in the region and to correct the grave mistakes of the Obama administration", Hariri said.

However, both sides have laid claim to small victories.

The government delegation has sought to focus peace talks around counter-terrorism - which is how it frames the battle with all its armed opponents - while the opposition wants to discuss political transition, which it says must mean President Bashar al-Assad giving up power.

The opposition says that "political transition" means an end to almost 50 years of Assad family rule, something the government has ruled out giving away through negotiation.

Russia, seen as holding the balance of power, has met both sides behind the scenes, and Western diplomats expect the talks to conclude later on Friday with an "agreed agenda" and a plan for a return to the Swiss city later this month.

Despite those contacts, Russian Federation accused the main opposition of trying to sabotage the talks by refusing to unite with two smaller dissident groups which have no military muscle but have Moscow's blessing as opposition voices.

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"The train is ready, it is in the station", he said.

A Western diplomat said Russia's push to unify the opposition was an underhand tactic.

As well as incremental trust, the upkeep of a ceasefire brokered by Russian Federation and Turkey last December and improved humanitarian access in the war-torn country are seen as key factors if future talks are to avoid an early breakdown.

In parallel, the talks in Astana - convened by the Governments of Iran, Russia and Turkey - would continue to address issues related to the maintenance of the ceasefire and confidence-building measures. But the scope of these negotiations was at least narrower than a year ago when he was also coping with demands for a ceasefire and a prisoner release.

"De Mistura's mistake was that he did not join several opposition groups into one". I hope that Staffan can push back on it.

De Mistura said the government delegation put forward a suggestion on exchanging prisoners and abducted people, which should be taken up in Astana.

"The U.S.is not a direct participant in the UN-led talks", a spokesperson for the U.S. Mission in Geneva said.

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