Syria's information minister says government officials will not discuss handing over power or forming a transitional government at peace talks planned for later this month in Switzerland.

Omran al-Zoubi's comments Tuesday come hours before a Syrian envoy is to meet Russian and U.S. officials in Geneva to assess prospects for the peace conference between President Bashar Assad's government and a united opposition, as the country's civil war rages into its third year.

Members of the exiled and Western-backed opposition group insist Assad be excluded from Syria's future leadership for any talks to take place.

In an interview with Syrian state TV late Monday, al-Zoubi said Geneva talks are part of a political process, "and not a handover of power or forming a transitional governing body."