Syria Envoy signals "more business-like" talks

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Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, briefs the Press ahead of the Intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. Photo: UN Photo/Violaine Martin

A new round of Intra-Syrian talks is set to be more "business-like" than before as part of a renewed push to halt the more than six-year conflict, UN negotiator Staffan de Mistura said on Monday in Geneva.

Speaking to journalists, Mr de Mistura said that beginning on Tuesday, his discussions with the government of Syria and the main opposition parties would continue to be guided by UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

It calls among other things for political transition by Syrians themselves to end the conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and devastated the country.

Daniel Johnson has more.

On the eve of a new push for a durable, negotiated peace in Syria, UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura told journalists that he planned to meet more frequently than in the past with government and opposition delegations in Geneva this week.

The four main issues on the table haven't changed: political transition, free and fair elections, a new constitution and counter-terrorism measures.

But what may be different this time is the choice of subjects tackled within that framework, Mr de Mistura said; the aim is to make progress on some or all of them.

In the past, such issues have included detainees held inside the war-torn country.

"The intention however this time is to go a little bit more deeply and actually be more business-like both in our meetings and in the way we hope we can get some progress."

The latest Geneva talks follow the signing of a so-called "safe zone" deal between Russia, Turkey and Iran.

This involves the proposed de-escalation of fighting in four regions inside Syria.

Important as that deal is, the UN Special Envoy said he shared the view that it would be unsustainable without some form of clear political horizon "in one direction or another".

At Staffan de Mistura's side, Deputy Special Envoy for Syria Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, just back from Damascus, said that the government was "engaged" in the talks and had indicated that they wanted to work on the UN-facilitated political process.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’24″


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