Saturday, May 20, 2017

Not all issues discussed at latest round of Syria peace talks: UN envoy

The UN Special Envoy for Syria announced Friday that the latest round of Syria peace talks ended, and he hopes to resume negotiations between warring factions "sometime in June" to address all the critical issues which had not been touched upon this week.

"We did not have the physical time for in-depth discussions in the formal sessions to cover all four baskets," UN envoy Staffan de Mistura told press, referring to the issues of governance, a new constitution, elections and the war on terrorism.

"But we did discuss several substantive issues of key concern to the parties and we intend to move ahead on all four baskets in coming rounds, while the new process of having expert meetings will also continue," he added.

The setting up this week of expert meetings on constitutional and legal matters was considered a positive step by the envoy, who hoped that they will push forward the political track in future negotiations.

The envoy also lauded the fact that the procedure this time round was more business-like, and that there were fewer rhetorical statements by rival factions engaged in UN-mediated talks seeking to broker a political end to the six-year conflict.

The messages from rival delegations were more mixed however. The head of the Syrian government delegation, Bashar al-Jaafari, said earlier Friday that none of the four baskets were discussed.

As talks ended, Syria's opposition delegation leader Nasr al-Hariri said that little progress had been achieved, though he highlighted the importance of keeping the UN-mediated process alive.

As in previous rounds, de Mistura said that he will brief the UN Security Council next week, and consult with the UN Secretary General as to when to restart peace talks, which he hoped would be sometime next month.

This latest round of intra-Syrian peace talks was the third to take place between warring factions since the start of this year.

While some progress on the humanitarian front has been achieved, opposing delegations remain at odds as to what a future, peaceful Syria might look like.

De Mistura's job is to help bridge the wide gaps between rival factions, while ensuring that any outcome is in line with UN Security Council resolutions.

Despite past setbacks, the UN has staunchly stood by its pledge to pursue peace through political negotiations to prevent further bloodshed in a country where as many as 400,000 people have died and millions more have fled their homes.

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