"Incremental progress" at latest Syria talks

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Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, with journalists on the last day of the seventh round of Intra-Syrian Talks in Geneva. Photo: UN Photo / Violaine Martin

A new round of talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict have ended in Geneva where UN negotiator Staffan de Mistura spoke of making "incremental progress" and his intention to continue discussions in September.

The Special Envoy was speaking to journalists in the Swiss city after a week of meetings with government and opposition delegations.

After more than six-and-a-half years of war, the Syrian conflict has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions, creating a humanitarian catastrophe.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Staffan de Mistura had played down expectations of a breakthrough at the beginning of this seventh round of Intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.

"Incremental progress" had been made on preparatory issues nonetheless, the veteran UN mediator told journalists.

Asked if the Government of Syria delegation appeared willing to talk about political transition, Mr de Mistura replied that it was not the case yet.

"If I had to base myself on what I have heard this round, I would say no, I do not have an indication. But what I do believe is that what are going to be the next steps of the international community wanting to see an acceleration of the end of this conflict may help the government to be ready, and I've been asking them for the next round to be ready to address the political process."

The UN Special Envoy explained that a technical mechanism set up in the previous round of talks had helped opposition delegations discuss less contentious subjects, and build trust too.

This work should continue ahead of a new round of talks in early September, which he hoped would be more substantive.

Mr de Mistura explained after his closed-door meeting with the UN Security Council that there was renewed international interest in seeing a resolution to the more than six-and-a-half year conflict.

This could encourage President Bashar Assad to agree to engage on all four issues on the table in Geneva in around a month-and-a half's time, he added.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’31″

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