Syrian government Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Faisal Mekdad gives a press conference on the first day of the second round of the Geneva II Syria peace talks outside the Palais des Nations. The Geneva II talks which started in Montreux and Geneva between 22 and 24 January 2013 and are continuing in February are bringing together the Syrian government, the main Syrian opposition parties (including the main National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces), the UN, EU, Arab League and foreign ministers from over 40 countries to try and resolve the Syrian civil war which has been going on for almost 3 years and has cost the lives of well over 130,000 people. Initially the main opposition forces posited that only President Assad's removal would lead to further peace negotiations. Under pressure from Western and Arab leaders, however, they were persuaded to attend the conference without any preconditions. In Geneva, UN Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi is meeting with each of the sides separately after the parties made it clear that they would not meet face to face.