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Syria Talks in Geneva to Resume Without UN Envoy

U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 9, 2016.

The U.N. envoy for Syria won't be on hand for the resumption of peace talks involving government envoys and a delegation of opposition leaders.

U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci says the envoy, Staffan de Mistura, won't be there but his deputy, Ramzy Ramzy, will "engage the parties bilaterally'' when talks resume on Thursday in Geneva.

She says de Mistura is traveling to Ankara and Moscow and will join the talks on Friday. Russia and Turkey back rival sides in the talks and in Syria's war.

Vellucci said on Tuesday that the focus of this round will be governance, constitutional issues, elections, and counter-terrorism, security and confidence-building measures.

The two sides haven't met face-to-face in four previous rounds under de Mistura's mediation since early 2016. He has presided over all those rounds.