Syrian opposition to decide on Wednesday on peace talks

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Saudi-backed Syrian opposition said it would decide on Wednesday whether to take part in Geneva peace talks this week, saying it welcomed an invitation to the negotiations but was seeking clarifications from the United Nations.

The High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which groups armed and political opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, had taken “a positive view” of the invitation received from U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura on Tuesday, spokesman Salim al-Muslat said.

“There are some questions. A letter was sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations and tomorrow there will be a reply to the letter of Mr. de Mistura,” Muslat said in an interview with Arabic news channel Arabiya al-Hadath.

“We are not putting obstacles in front of the political solution. We want some explanations of some points that came in the invitation,” Muslat said.

The HNC has repeatedly said the Syrian government and its allies must halt bombardments and lift blockades of besieged areas - steps laid down in a U.N. Security Council resolution on Dec. 18 - before it will join any talks.

One of the clarifications sought was over language in the invitation referring to the establishment of a “government with credibility”.

“We want an explanation of that - is it an interim governing authority?” he said, referring to the type of government demanded by the opposition.

The U.N.-backed talks bringing together representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition were originally scheduled to begin on Monday but are now set for Friday after wrangling over issues including who should attend.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington/Ali Abdellati; Editing by Gareth Jones/Tom Perry