Syria: UN envoy cautions against “spoilers” on eve of negotiations

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United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura takes questions at a press conference in Geneva prior to the Intra-Syrian negotiations. UN Photo/Violaine Martin

The countdown has begun to Intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva where UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura on Wednesday stressed the need to "outpace" those who wished to see the deliberations come to nothing.

Downplaying expectations of an immediate "breakthrough" between the warring sides, Mr de Mistura said that it was time for delegations to show that it is time to "fight on the (negotiating) table, not in the field".

To date, the near six-year war in Syria has claimed some 300,000 lives and displaced millions.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

On the eve of what will be a fourth round of UN-led talks between the warring parties in Syria, Staffan de Mistura said that he would be continuing to push for a resolution to the conflict based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

It calls for three things: non-sectarian governance in the war-ravaged country, a new constitution and free and fair elections.

But the UN Special Envoy cautioned against so-called "spoilers" who were attempting to undermine the negotiations by refusing to lay down their weapons.

"Am I expecting a breakthrough? No, I'm not expecting a breakthrough…There is a run, a rush between us and the spoilers, the spoilers want to keep a momentum. We have to outpace those few but clear spoilers with momentum on the political track and I think we can aim at that.”

The veteran negotiator said that the Russian Federation announced earlier in the day that it had asked the Syrian government – which it backs – to "silence their own skies" for the duration of the talks.

And he said that he had asked the same of the opposition forces attending the talks in Geneva, to give them the best chance of success.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’12″

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