US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov chat before the the start of talks on the Syrian conflict between 17 countries, the European Union and United Nations at the Hotel Imperial in Viennaon October 30, 2015
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov chat before the the start of talks on the Syrian conflict between 17 countries, the European Union and United Nations at the Hotel Imperial in Viennaon October 30, 2015 © Brendan Smialowski - Pool/AFP
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov chat before the the start of talks on the Syrian conflict between 17 countries, the European Union and United Nations at the Hotel Imperial in Viennaon October 30, 2015
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AFP
Last updated: October 30, 2015

Syria peace talks under way with 17 countries, EU and UN

Banner Icon Talks on a political solution to the civil war in Syria got under way Friday, with 17 countries plus the United Nations and European Union taking part.

Syria itself was not represented, but senior envoys from Turkey, Italy, Britain, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Germany, Qatar, France, the UAE, Oman, the United States and China were present in Vienna.

US Secretary of State John Kerry sat at the head of the table for the meeting, the first that brought together all the main outside players in the four-year-old Syrian crisis, including bitter foes Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was sat almost as far from his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif as was possible at the tight U-shaped table in the conference room of Vienna's grand Imperial Hotel.

Most of the countries were represented by their foreign ministers but China sent vice foreign minister Li Baodong. The United Nations was represented by its special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura.

Just ahead of the talks, 40 people were killed Friday when rockets fired by Syrian government forces crashed into a market in a rebel-held area outside Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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