Syria Envoy lays foundations for "long and difficult" process

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Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, attends a bilateral meeting between representatives of the Syrian government and opposition on 24 February 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.UN Photo/V.Martin

The first full day of talks aimed at ending the conflict in Syria ended in Geneva on Friday where the office of UN negotiator Staffan de Mistura repeated his assessment that the way ahead will be "long and difficult".

The UN Special Envoy for Syria's comments follow meetings with the government of the war-torn country and the opposition.

This is the first time in 10 months that the parties to the conflict have agreed to discuss a peaceful end to the nearly six-year-old conflict.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

At the end of the first full day of talks on Syria, the message from Staffan de Mistura was clear: the process is going to be "long and difficult".

Michel Contet, representing the Special Envoy at a press conference, said that Mr de Mistura had made "detailed proposals" on how the talks could proceed, with a view to "genuine negotiations".

But he added that no early breakthrough should be expected.

It was a message that Mr de Mistura first made 24 hours earlier.

Bashar Jaafari, who heads the government of Syria delegation, told journalists earlier in the day that he had discussed the format of the talks with Mr de Mistura.

He added that he'd been handed a "paper" by the Special Envoy and had agreed to study its contents ahead their next meeting.

Nasr Alhariri, from the Riyadh opposition group, said that his talks with Mr de Mistura had been generally positive.

He also spoke of the need for a "just political solution" to the conflict for which the Syrian people had paid "a high price".

The basis for a political transition would be UN Security Council resolution 2254, he added, with its focus on inclusive government and free and fair elections.

Further meetings are planned over the weekend.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’17”


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