Syria's government declared that its main priority was stopping terrorism — not ensuring peace — and the opposition hinted it was far from ready to negotiate directly with the government it wants to overthrow, casting sharp doubt Thursday on peace talks that have barely begun.
On the day that the two sides were meeting separately with a U.N. mediator known for untangling diplomatic knots, their comments affirmed positions hardened by nearly three years of civil war. The goal of direct talks by Friday appeared distant at best.
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