UN: Syria peace talks to take place Jan. 22

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations said Monday that Syria's government and opposition will hold their first-ever peace talks in Geneva on Jan. 22, in an attempt to halt the nearly three-year-old civil war that has killed over 100,000 people.

Previous attempts to bring the two sides together have failed mainly because of disputes over who should represent the Syrian opposition and government, and whether Iran, Saudi Arabia and other regional powers should be at the table.

In a statement Monday, the United Nations said that 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."

The statement said that one of the key goals would be the "the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities.

"The Secretary-General expects that the Syrian representatives will come to Geneva with a clear understanding that this is the objective, and with a serious intention to end a war that has already left well over 100,000 dead, driven almost nine million from their homes, left countless missing and detained, sent tremors through the region and forced unacceptable burdens on Syria's neighbors," the statement said.

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