Syrian President Assad
The Syrian government has agreed to join peace talks in Geneva this month. In picture: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks during a TV interview in Damascus, Syria in this still image taken from a video on 29 November 2015.Reuters

The Bashar al-Assad government in Syria has informed the United Nations it will participate in peace talks planned for this month in Geneva, the state media reported on Saturday. 

UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura was in Damascus on Friday to prepare for the planned meeting between the Syrian government and the Opposition groups in the country on 25 January, fixed after the United Nations Security Council adopted a peace resolution last month.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told the UN envoy on Saturday that the government was ready to push dialogue and participate in the Geneva meeting, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported. 

The Assad government has sought a list of names of the Syrian opposition figures who will join the talks as well as of the groups that will be classed as terrorists, Reuters reported.

The United Nations has sought a peaceful end to the five-year civil war that has ravaged Syria, killing more than 250,000 people and forcing many more to flee.

US Secretary of State John Kerry had said this week the Geneva talks between the opposing Syrian sides was still slated for 25 January. 

In the peace resolution, the UN Security Council called for a political transition for Syria and called for elections to be held within 18 months. However, the fate of Assad, which has been the point of contention between the United States and Russia, was not part of the document. 

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