Containing attempts to derail peace is key, says Syria envoy

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Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, who said that intra-Syrian talks will reconvene at the United Nations in Geneva on 7 March. Photo: UN/Jean-Marc Ferré

Newly announced intra-Syrian talks are the best chance for peace, but all parties should expect "hiccups" and a test of the just-declared cessation of hostilities, UN negotiator Staffan de Mistura said Saturday.

Speaking in Geneva as the agreement took hold in the wartorn country, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria said that there was now "huge momentum" for an end to the fighting.

Nearly 100 armed groups and other parties had agreed to halt attacks after nearly five years of fighting, de Mistura explained, before adding that surveillance mechanisms were in place to prevent attempts to derail the fragile truce.

Daniel Johnson has more.

The next few hours and days are going to be critical for Syria, UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said, shortly after the beginning of a cessation of hostilities in the wartorn country.

After announcing that intra-Syrian talks are to get under way in Geneva on March 7, the UN negotiator said that they would feature the same government and opposition groups that had been present before discussions were suspended at the beginning of the month.

But before these new talks can happen, the cessation of hostilities deal had to hold – and this won't be easy, de Mistura said:

"There is a high chance we should expect some hiccups, need for adjustments, and tensions and incidents. The important point we need to see is if those incidents can be brought under control and contained, that is going to be the test."

Stopping armed groups from trying to derail the cessation in hostilities and the peace talks will be the job of a complex, inter-linked surveillance mechanism run by Russia, the United States and a taskforce group co-chaired by the UN.

And detailing the upcoming talks in Geneva, de Mistura said they would last for three weeks, with the agenda exactly the same as before, namely a new inclusive government, a new constitution and new presidential and parliamentary election within 18 months.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1'22"


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