UN Syria envoy opens new round indirect talks between Syrian gov't and opposition leaders

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-11 02:21:38|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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GENEVA, July 10 (Xinhua) -- UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura opened a new round of indirect talks on Monday between representatives of the Syrian government and opposition leaders, which he said was aimed at simplifying peace negotiations to wind down the nearly seven-year civil war.

"We are not expecting a breakthrough, but some incremental development," de Mistura told journalists after he met with the Syrian government delegation headed by Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, for bilateral talks.

Later in the day, he also met opposition leaders and representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely China, France, Russia, the United States and Britain, saying he received "strong support".

According to the UN official, the meeting with opponents of the Syrian government was a "working luncheon at which the oppositions were all together," and in which de Mistura said the aim was to arrive at "an opposition common position."

The start of the talks in Geneva, the seventh so far, came on the first full day of a ceasefire for southern Syria brokered last week by the United States, Russia, and Jordan which could provide a better atmosphere for peace negotiation.

"The agreement is basically broadly holding, quite well. In all agreements there is a period of adjustment, we are watching very carefully," said the UN envoy. "But we can say we believe it has fairly good chances of working out."

"The devil is in the detail but we believe it has a strong chance of being implemented, after long and intense preparations," said de Mistura, noting that a lot of things have been happening on the ground and in the overall political environment.

"We are perhaps witnessing a phase of simplifying the most complex conflict of our times," he said, observing that over the years several layers had been added with "new players" and various complicating factors.

He pointed out that "The de-escalation process, however, needs to be considered as interim and with a clear understanding it is not going undermine ultimately the Syrian national unity - territorial integrity otherwise this means partition - and I know this is something no one would like to see."

De Mistura also said that a stabilization phase should dovetail with the de-escalation phase.

According to De Mistura, the topic of the latest round of talks will still be those set by previous talks, namely better governance, a new constitution, re-election, and the war on terrorism.

The current talks are expected to last till the end of the week and further rounds of talks have been scheduled in August and September.

The last UN-led talks aimed at brokering a political solution between Syrian warring factions, namely the Syrian government and opposition forces, ended on May 19 without going deeper into the scheduled topics.

Since the war in Syria broke out in March 2011, the crisis has claimed more than 320,000 lives and displaced millions, the UN estimated.