Monday, 25 September, 2017

UN Syria envoy hails progress in peace talks

The Latest: UN food agency gains new access to Syria's Raqqa De Mistura: Direct Syrian Talks in Upcoming Rounds
Howard Terry | 16 July, 2017, 00:40

We have made incremental progress. It was brokered by the USA, which backs the rebels, as well as Russian Federation, which provides military support to President Bashar al-Assad's troops.

The head of the Syrian government delegation, Bashar al-Jaafari, said on Friday that his team has not been asked to hold direct talks.

The envoy, however, ruled out the possibility of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC) uniting with the Moscow- and Cairo-based opposition platforms for direct talks with the Syrian government, during the ongoing round of the Geneva talks, which ends on Saturday.

The U.N. Syria envoy says he plans to convene in September an eighth round of indirect peace talks between President Bashar Assad's government and opposition leaders. "No breakthrough, no breakdown, no one walking out", said UN Syrian envoy Staffan de Mistura after briefing the UN Security Council on the talks.

This week's talks were held as a ceasefire was in effect in southwest Syria.

The opposition groups have drawn closer together, built new levels of "trust" and have scheduled to meet again later this month, De Mistura said.

The Italian-Swedish diplomat, who has headed the United Nations peace efforts in Syria since July 2014, spelled out that during the week-long talks, he asked all involved parties to discuss substantial issues on four topics: governance, constitution, re-elections and anti-terrorism.

Instead, Staffan de Mistura wrapped up the latest session of the intra-Syrian talks aimed to help end the country's blistering six-year war by turning his focus to one of the Assad government's main talking points: The fight against terrorism.

Jaafari said his side focused on "counter-terrorism" as well as "technical, legal and constitutional discussions" during this round.

The UN-led peace talks in Geneva are important in the process for a political solution to the Syrian conflict and the most important thing now is to maintain the peace process in a sustainable manner without disruption or stalling, China's special envoy on the Syrian issue Xie Xiaoyan told Xinhua.

He also said he has got no indication so far from the Syrian government delegation on their readiness to address the issue of political transition issue.

In New York, France's ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, said a contact group would aim to support de Mistura's efforts.

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