Syria envoy to push on political transition issue

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Staffan de Mistura. UN File Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre

Peace talks on Syria resumed in Geneva on Monday where UN negotiator Staffan de Mistura has indicated that it is time to make more progress on the issue of political transition in the war-torn country.

After meeting with the government of Syria in Geneva, de Mistura said he had been told that it was "premature" to talk about how the country should be run once the five-year-old conflict ends.

But he said that political transition remains the "mother of all issues" and that in his opinion Damascus needs to start addressing it.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

As talks resumed in Geneva to decide the future of Syria, Staffan de Mistura repeated his assertion that political transition remains the key issue on the negotiating table.

Here's what the UN Special Envoy said when asked if he had raised the issue with the government of Syria delegation, headed by Ambassador Bashar Al-Jaafari:

"I did, actually, and he said it was, and I'm not revealing a secret, premature at the moment to start to talk about it. My message was, 'premature' means imminent, as far as we are concerned.  It is important to start addressing their own understanding."

The UN Special Envoy also insisted that "common understanding" still needs to be found by all sides on how the negotiations should proceed.

And this is important, he said, since the future shape of Syria is at stake and there is no "Plan B."

At the same time, Staffan de Mistura also said that he was determined to move the talks forward quickly while the cessation of hostilities is still holding "by and large", and while aid convoys were still able to move relatively freely in Syria.

But neither could be sustained without progress on political transition, he warned.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’08″

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