An international conference on a political solution to the Syrian conflict could take place Nov. 23—24, Syria’s deputy prime minister said on Thursday the first mention of possible dates for the long-delayed gathering.

The United States and Russia have been trying to bring the Damascus government and Syria’s divided opposition to the negotiating table for months, but the meeting has been repeatedly delayed and it remains unclear whether either side is really willing to hold talks while the war is deadlocked.

The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, has not decided whether to attend, and many rebel fighters inside Syria flatly reject negotiating with President Bashar Assad’s regime. The government, meanwhile, has refused to talk with the armed opposition.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Syrian deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil was quoted by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency as saying “the conference will be held on the 23rd and 24th of November.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that efforts are intensifying to try to hold the Geneva meeting in mid-November. Mr Ban did not provide concrete dates, and it’s not clear whether the schedule provided by Jamil has been agreed to by any other parties.

Keywords: Syria peace talks

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