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Syrian opposition gets lessons in high-level negotiating ahead of Geneva peace talks next year

Tucked away in a stately mansion in The Hague, members of the Syrian opposition in exile have been given lessons in how to get what they want at crucial peace talks scheduled for early next year in Geneva.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, who funded last-week's training at the Clingendael think tank, says the sessions were aimed at strengthening the hand of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition at the negotiating table.

Trainer Wilbur Perlot said Monday that 17 members of the exile opposition group took part in five days of training — learning crucial lessons in give and take during international negotiation.

The Geneva peace conference is scheduled for Jan. 22. Western leaders have made clear they expect the coalition to be the chief opposition negotiator for Syria.