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UN wants new round of Syria peace talks soon
September 29, 2017
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UNITED NATIONS: The UN’s top envoy for Syria announced on Wednesday that new talks between Syria’s government and opposition will take place “in about a month” and said this eighth round must finally move to “genuine negotiations on the political future” of the war-ravaged country.

De Mistura said that he hopes to convene a new round of Syria talks in Geneva in the coming weeks.

“I am calling on both sides to assess the situation with realism and responsibility to the people of Syria and to prepare seriously to participate in the Geneva talks,” de Mistura said at the UN Security Council.

He said he intends to convene an eighth round of talks on the bloody more than six-year conflict no later than the end of October or early November.

De Mistura has already hosted seven rounds of largely unsuccessful talks in Geneva, with the fate of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad one of the main obstacles to progress.

Syrian opposition groups and various Western powers insist that Assad must go. But with his military position in the ascendant, he has little motivation to make concessions.

At the same time, there is a second process of negotiations in Kazakh capital Astana that has led to the establishment of multiple “de-escalation zones” that have contributed to a reduction in violence.

“These developments have had a positive impact on civilians,” said Mark Lowcock, the UN’s head of humanitarian affairs and emergency relief.

But “we continue to receive reports of violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict,” he said.

De Mistura told the council that fighters for the Daesh extremist group are “being beaten back.”

He pointed to the breaking of a three-year siege of Deir Ezzor city by Daesh and the US-led international coalition taking control of most of the city of Raqa, once the de facto capital of the militant group’s self-styled caliphate.

He pointed to the creation of four de-escalation zones as “an important next step” in efforts to reduce violence.

These zones should be a precursor “to a truly nationwide cease-fire” and action to provide humanitarian aid to all in need, he said. Talks in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana, which have focused on local cease-fires and de-escalation zones, “should be seen as laying the basis for a renewed Geneva process,” he added.


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