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UN Envoy: No Signs Damascus Will Participate in Latest Geneva Talks

FILE - U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura delivers remarks at a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria at the United Nations headquarters in New York, April 12, 2017.

President Bashar al-Assad's government has not confirmed its participation in peace talks with the Syrian opposition scheduled for this week in Geneva, the U.N. special envoy for Syria said Monday.

Staffan de Mistura told the U.N. Security Council the Assad government said it would not be sending representatives to Geneva on Monday. But de Mistura held out hope saying, "We know and indeed expect that the government will be on its way shortly, particularly in light of President Assad's commitment to [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin when they met in Sochi."

Putin hosted Assad last week for a meeting, during which Syria's president said he was "ready for dialogue with all those who want to come up with a political settlement".

Russia has bolstered Assad's rule with airstrikes since late 2015 against groups trying to overthrow his regime, with Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters also supporting Damascus.

Tuesday's talks in Geneva will be the eighth on a political settlement in Syria after previous meetings achieved little progress to stop the war that has left at least 400,000 people dead and 13 million Syrians in need of humanitarian aid.