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Syrian Government, Opposition Agree on Basis for Peace Talks

The Syrian government and the opposition delegation attending peace talks in Geneva say they have agreed to use a 2012 "Geneva communique" as a basis for negotiations.

The document calls for several steps for ending Syria's conflict, including the creation of a transitional government.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency says since the start of talks, the government has announced its "full readiness" to put the communique "on the table" and discuss provisions "one item at a time."

Opposition spokesman Louay al-Safi said the two sides had agreed to use the document as a basis for talks.

The development took place Wednesday, the fifth day of talks. Both sides have been meeting with U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

In another development, Western news organizations say the Syrian government is buying oil and gas from al-Qaida-linked groups that have seized control of some of those resources in Syria.

The news organizations say militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and the al-Nusra Front have used proceeds from oil and gas sales to finance their operations. The news organizations quote unnamed Western officials.

The New York Times on Wednesday said opposition activists in Syria's oil region claimed militant groups were also providing fuel to the government in exchange for relief from air strikes.

Rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insist he must leave power, while the Syrian government has said Mr. Assad's role is not up for debate at the peace conference.

Syria's conflict began in March 2011 as peaceful protests against the government before spiraling into a civil war that the U.N. says has killed well over 100,000 people and forced nearly 9 million from their homes.

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