New Round of Syrian Talks Started in Geneva Thanks to Astana Progress

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A new round of peace talks on the Syrian settlement has been started in Geneva.

New Round of Syrian Talks Started in Geneva Thanks to Astana Progress

During talks on Syria, file photo (Photo: AFP 2017 / Fabrice Coffrini)

On Thursday, a new round of peace talks on the Syrian settlement was started in Geneva, Switzerland. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura noted that he does not expect any breakthrough, but, at the same time, hopes not to lose the momentum towards a resolution.

“Am I expecting a breakthrough? No, I’m not expecting a breakthrough,” de Mistura said. “But I am expecting and determined for keeping a very pro-active momentum,” he added.

At the same time, the Special Envoy warned that grievances are likely to arise in full force.

“Don’t be surprised, if there will be rhetoric statements, and even dismissive statements among them, aggressive ones. They are part of what we should expect,” he said, asking reporters not to hurry to make conclusions and resort to insulting the talks’ participants.

“We will be aiming at substance,” de Mistura stressed.

It is also expected that disagreements over the continued insistence of the opposition that the fate of the Syrian government, headed by President Bashar al-Assad, must be settled as a precondition, – something that is not currently under the discussion.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government was asked by Russia to halt all military operations during the peace talks, while the rebels are expected to receive the same message by other countries.

However, on Sunday, during the Munich Security Conference, de Mistura expressed disappointment about the lack of certain position of the US on this matter.

“One thing I’m missing at the moment… is a clear US strategy,” the UN Special Envoy for Syria said, noting “where are the United States [on a political solution]? I can’t tell you, because I don’t know.”

Nine months ago, a sharp escalation in hostilities in Syria broke off the last round of the Geneva talks. However, the progress, which was recently made in Astana, Kazakhstan, led to a new ceasefire. At the same time, de Mistura noted that “even a ceasefire cannot hold too long if there is no political [solution].”

A similar point of view was reflected at the recent meeting of the UN Security Council, according to which the humanitarian situation “will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the crisis.”

De Mistura noted that “we will be very reluctant to engage in pre-conditions, and in fact I will be refusing them,” but, at the same time, added that he expects other rounds of talks in Astana, during which Russia, Iran and Turkey will try to iron out a humanitarian solution.

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