Delegations of opposition, Assad regime arrive in Geneva

Orient Net 2017-02-22 14:53:00

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The UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has said, at a press conference held in the UN headquaters in Geneva, that he does not expect any breakthrough in the Syrian talks of Geneva, pointing out that bilateral talks will be held tomorrow between Assad regime and opposition, after welcoming them in the Swiss capital.

Earlier on Wednesday, delegations of Syrian opposition and Assad regime arrived today (February 22) in Geneva ahead of another round of talks to begin on Thursday (February 23) after 10 months in deep-freeze.

The political context is similarly unrecognisable, with new leadership in Washington and the United Nations and tentative coordination between Turkey, Russia and Iran.

But while a ceasefire is holding, at least nominally, across most of Syria, there has been little movement on the issues that dogged previous rounds of talks.

The opposition will press for prisoner releases, the lifting of Assad sieges, and above all for a political transition leading to the end of Assad’s rule.

"We consider the restarting of negotiations as a very important step, especially that the (United Nations) secretary general and Mr. (Staffan) De Mistura confirmed that the talks will focus on discussing the political transition, governance, the constitution mechanisms and the issue of elections in the next stage," member of the opposition delegation and media advisor Ahmad Ramadan told Reuters.

Ramadan used the term ’unified opposition delegation’ highlighting there will be only one delegation from the opposition. The High Negotiation Committee, (HNC) the main umbrella group, has said that the new 21-member negotiating team included members of two dissident alliances with which it has previously been at odds.

When Ramadan was asked if Assad would be taking part in the political process he was referring to, he said this was a "determining factor" not only for the opposition but also for the Russians.

"During the previous talks, the humanitarian and political paths were crossing. In this round of talks, Geneva is focusing on the political path, not on the humanitarian path. Therefore, there is now a possibility to achieve progress in this round of negotiations if there was an interaction from the United States, the sponsoring countries and the concerned countries that will participate in the political process," he said.

The rest of the opposition delegation, including the head of the negotiating team Nasr al-Hariri and chief negotiator Mohammad Sabra, arrived in Geneva on Wednesday.

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