UN Sets Peace Talks Between Syrian Government, Rebels

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-11_e2ede6c33e.jpgSalih Mahmut Leyla/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images (NEW YORK) -- The United Nations announced on Monday that talks between the Syrian government and opposition will be held early next year in Geneva. The conference will take place on Jan. 22, and will mark the first time that both sides have been brought to the negotiating table since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011.

"We will go to Geneva with a mission of hope," the U.N. said in a statement. "The Geneva conference is the vehicle for a peaceful transition that fulfills the legitimate aspirations of all the Syrian people for freedom and dignity, and which guarantees safety and protection to all communities in Syria.  Its goal is the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, including the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities."

"The conflict in Syria has raged for too long.  It would be unforgivable not to seize this opportunity to bring an end to the suffering and destruction it has caused," the statement concluded.

According to the U.N., the civil war has left more than 100,000 people dead and has driven close to nine million others from their homes.

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