Delegations from Syria's government and the Western-backed opposition hoping to overthrow it will face each other "in the same room" Saturday for the first time ever, a U.N. mediator said.
The mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, met separately with the two groups for two days, trying to broker peace — or at least a measure of common ground — in a civil war that has left at least 130,000 people dead.
"We are going to meet tomorrow. I hope that it will be a good beginning, and that we will continue until the end of next week," he said.
The announcement from Brahimi came after Syria's government vowed to leave Switzerland if "serious talks" did not begin by Saturday. The opposition, which agreed to the peace talks only under intense diplomatic pressure, had been reluctant to sit face-to-face with the government it insists must yield power. Direct talks planned for Friday between the Syrian government and the Syrian National Coalition had been scrapped.