UN envoy to Syria starts broad consultations in Geneva in effort to restart peace talks

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BEIRUT — A United Nations envoy has begun a series of low-level consultations in Geneva with representatives of the Syrian government and its opponents in the hopes of finding enough common ground to restart peace talks.

Staffan de Mistura was keen to lower expectations that the talks would yield any agreement at this point.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Geneva, de Mistura said: "These are not yet peace talks." He described the talks as closed, low-key and separate discussions to consult on the current crisis in Syria.

He said the talks would last for an initial period of five to six weeks with no cutoff date.

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