Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad says the government has decided to take part in a second round of peace talks in Geneva, set to begin next week.

The Syrian opposition has also said it will take part in the second round of talks. The first was adjourned with no signs of progress on January 31.

State TV quoted Mekdad as saying on Friday that the government delegation will head to the talks scheduled to resume on Monday in Geneva.

The negotiations aim to broker a political solution to Syria’s civil war. The conflict has killed more than 130,000 people, forced more than 2.3 million to seek refuge abroad, and sent sectarian tensions soaring across the region.

Evacuation of civilians to begin in Syrian city

The governor of the central Syrian province of Homs says the evacuation of dozens of civilians from besieged rebel-held neighbourhoods in the provincial capital is expected to begin within hours.

Mr. Barrazi says the first batch of 200 civilians will leave the rebel-held neighbourhood of Jouret el-Shayah.

The announcement came a day after President Bashar Assad’s government said it reached an agreement with the United Nations to let hundreds of trapped civilians leave besieged parts of Homs and permit U.N. humanitarian relief convoys to enter.

“The atmosphere is positive” Mr. Barrazi said.

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