YEREVAN, January 24. / ARKA /. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, who heads the government delegation at talks in Geneva, said his delegation would walk out of peace talks if "serious" negotiations do not begin in the next 24 hours.
The ultimatum followed the refusal by the country's opposition to hold face-to-face talks with President Bashar al Assad's regime, after it refused to accept demands for the setting up of a transitional governing body. Instead, UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will meet with Syrian government and opposition delegations separately.
The conflict in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people and created an estimated 2.3 million refugees.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem is quoted as telling the country's state television: "If no serious work sessions are held by Saturday, the official Syrian delegation will leave Geneva due to the other side's lack of seriousness or preparedness."
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad told Sky News: "President Assad has never been the cause of this bloodshedding.
"President Assad is elected by the Syrian people, and it is the Syrian people who will decide the future of their country. We are here to discuss all these types of questions." -0-