The UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura applauds during a ceremony welcoming the Syrian government and opposition delegations in the Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 23, 2017. The UN Special Envoy for Syria on Thursday welcomed participants in the latest round of intra-Syrian peace talks, as well as members of the UN Security Council and representatives of the International Syria Support Group. The Syrian peace talks resumed in Geneva on Thursday. (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan)
GENEVA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- The UN Special Envoy for Syria on Thursday welcomed participants in the latest round of intra-Syrian peace talks, as well as members of the UN Security Council and representatives of the International Syria Support Group.
"The Syrian people desperately want an end to this conflict, and you all know it, you are the first ones to tell us this," Staffan de Mistura told participants, including government and opposition delegations in Geneva.
"The Syrian people have long known that there is no military solution, only a political solution," he added.
The diplomat had warned Wednesday that though he doesn't expect a breakthrough in the latest round of peace talks, he hopes the upcoming meetings will pave the way for future negotiations seeking to broker a political end to the five-year conflict.
He also highlighted that political negotiations are taking place in a very different geopolitical context to in which last year's talks took place.
The upkeep of a fragile ceasefire, and the improvement of humanitarian access in the war-torn country are both seen as key factors to talks involving representatives of the Syrian government and rebel factions seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The last time warring parties convened in Geneva was in April last year, a month in which talks were put on hold amid a humanitarian meltdown and systemic violence in the middle-eastern country.
Since the Syria conflict began in March 2011, an estimated 400,000 people have lost their lives, with millions more forced to flee their homes.