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Syrian delegations agree to meet Saturday, says mediator

Anja Niedringhaus / AP

Chief negotiator Hadi Bahra , center left, and members of the Syrian National Coalition before their meeting Friday.

Stout intractability and threats of walkouts gave way to signs of progress Friday at Syria peace talks, with government and opposition representatives agreeing to meet in the same room Saturday.

The sides accepted that their talks will be based on a 2012 communique which called for a transitional governing body to be set up, mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said Friday. 

"Tomorrow we have agreed that we shall meet in same room," Brahimi told a news conference after he held separate meetings with government and opposition delegations in Geneva. 

"The discussions I had with the two parties were encouraging," he said, adding that negotiations would be based on a June 2012 statement by world powers which called for the two sides to agree on the establishment of the transitional body. 

"I think the two sides understand that very well and accept it," Brahimi said.

The movement came after the talks seemed close to collapse when delegates representing President Bashar Assad threatened to walk out when the opposition coalition refused to meet them. 

Foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said they would abandon the conference aimed at ending the three-year civil war, if “serious talks don’t begin Saturday” because “the other party is not serious or ready,” the country’s state television reported, according to Reuters.  

Opponents to the Syrian leader had said a meeting was out of the question unless government representatives agreed to sign a protocol calling for a transitional government to take Assad's place, the agency reported.

"We have explicitly demanded a written commitment from the regime delegation to accept Geneva 1. Otherwise there will be no direct negotiations," opposition delegate Haitham al-Maleh told Reuters.

A spokesman for Brahimi told The Associated Press that negotiations were never expected to be easy or quick.

The conflict has killed at least 130,000 people and left millions more displaced. 

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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