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A Syrian delegation has arrived in Moscow to hold talks with Russian officials over the planned conference in Geneva.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday, “A delegation of Syrian government officials has arrived in Moscow for talks at the Russian Foreign Ministry. They are planning to meet with Deputy Foreign Ministers Gennady Gatilov and Mikhail Bogdanov.”

The Syrian delegation includes Buthaina Shaaban, who is the adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad, and Ahmad Arnous, the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s senior official on European affairs.

Damascus had earlier said the meeting in Moscow would focus on preparations for the Geneva talks.

The initiative for the Geneva 2 was proposed by Russia and the United States on May 7. The event has been delayed for months.

On November 14, Syrian newspaper Al-Watan said that the long-awaited conference would be held on December 12. The newspaper cited French diplomats as saying that US Secretary of State John Kerry had told his French counterpart Laurent Fabius that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would announce the date on November 25.

According to the foreign-backed Syrian opposition, Russia also invited Ahmad Jarba, who is the president of the so-called Syrian National Coalition, to visit Moscow on November 18-21.

However, Munzer Aqbiq, an adviser to Jarba said on Sunday that he would not be able to visit Moscow due to “preset official commitments.”

Jarba said on November 3 that the group would attend the talks only if there is a clear timeframe for President Assad to step down.

The Syrian government has agreed to take part in the talks, but has rejected preconditions or any insistence on the departure of Assad.

On November 14, in a telephone conversation with Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Damascus for its willingness to attend the conference.

Press TV