This is the making of a great New Year's resolution. Starting on January 22, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government will hold the first direct talks with rebel groups at an international peace conference in Geneva. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says their aim is to agree on an acceptable transitional administration and aspects of a peace plan drafted last year. Delegations for both sides will hopefully be named before the year's end. "There are many challenges ahead and no one should underestimate the difficulties," a spokesman for President Obama said. The Syrian civil war has so far claimed 100,000 lives, including that of more than 11,000 children.