Monday, 19 February, 2018

United Nations envoy: Syria talks end with 'incremental progress' but 'no breakthrough

De Mistura: Direct Syrian Talks in Upcoming Rounds No direct talks in sight between Syria's warring sides
Sammy Stanley | 16 July, 2017, 00:39

We have made incremental progress.

Some diplomats suspect the Moscow and Cairo platforms, which are much less opposed to President Bashar al-Assad than the HNC is, are little more than a mechanism created by Assad's ally Russian Federation to prevent direct negotiations and force the HNC to dilute its stance.

"I felt that there was an expectation for the United Nations to indicate where we are in the fight against terrorism, which is becoming the main issue being discussed at the highest possible level elsewhere", de Mistura said during a news conference.

The glacial pace of the Geneva talks, which some observers see as simply a way of keeping an avenue for peace talks open in case of an unexpected breakthrough, owes much to the fact that de Mistura has to meet each delegation separately.

Geneva - UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday that representatives from the Syrian regime and the opposition could soon hold unprecedented face-to-face talks.

De Mistura's remarks came ahead of a meeting with Bashar al-Jaafari, the Syrian government's chief negotiator, who held two official meetings with the global envoy in Geneva this week.

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"I have asked the parties to be ready to offer clear, substantive positions on issues across all four baskets, and we hope that we will be at least pushing them to sit in the same room".

"At present, there are still big differences between and among the Syrian government and the oppositions, so a step-by-step approach should be taken to handle the relatively easier problems first so as to forge more consensus and accumulate mutual trust", he said.

Bill Van Esveld, senior children's rights researcher at the USA -based Human Rights Watch, said Wednesday that "as long as no one is held responsible for such repeated unlawful attacks, it's likely they will continue".

Al-Jaafari said in his statements to the press in the Swiss city that the talks focused on combating terrorism and the legal issues pertaining to a new Constitution were the central topics with the opposition.

When asked if he has seen any sign that the government of Assad has given any ground on a possible political transition, he said, "no, I don't have any indication".

De Mistura praised a new initiative by French President Emmanuel Macron to create a so-called "contact group", including permanent Security Council members and regional powers, like rebel-backer Turkey and government supporter Iran.

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