"Broad ceasefire" is first priority, says UN Syria envoy setting new talks date

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Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, during a meeting with senior officials of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Mr. de Mistura called for the meeting to update the leaders on his latest regional travels and the resulting impressions about preparations for the Geneva Talks. UN Photo/Pierre Albouy

A "broad ceasefire" is the first priority for Syria's war-weary people, according to the UN's Syria envoy, announcing a new date for peace talks to begin.

Staffan de Mistura was speaking on Monday, when intra-Syrian talks were due to begin in Geneva, but he said they would now begin on Friday.

The UN Special Envoy said there had been a "stalemate" over which groups should be invited to take part, but invitations would be issued on Tuesday.

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr de Mistura has been trying to bring together Syria's warring factions for weeks now, in line with a timetable agreed by the International Syria Support Group and the UN Security Council.

He told reporters in Geneva, that he did not want any repeat of earlier talks which excluded some factions, and said that the "broadest possible spectrum" needed to be represented.

Every day that passes without peace talks to resolve the conflict which has cost more than 250,000 Syrian lives so far, is a "day lost" he added, saying that the priorities for everyone, should be clear.

"The possibility of a broad ceasefire, and the possibility of stopping the threat of ISIL. And therefore, thanks to a broader ceasefire, an increase of humanitarian aid."

He said it was vital to ensure the voice of women and civil society was heard at the talks, which are now scheduled to begin on January 29.

He added that there would be no preconditions laid down ahead of negotiations, and said it was likely to be an "uphill" process that would be based on "proximity talks" over six months.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’02″

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