UN-mediated Syria talks resume in Geneva

2017-02-24 04:35:00

The UN-sponsored Syrian peace talks resumed in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday, 10 months after falling apart over Assad regime’s escalating violence in the country.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura convened separate meetings with representatives of the Assad regime and opposition delegations on Thursday morning, after they arrived at the UN office in the Swiss capital earlier in the day.

Bashar al-Ja’afari, Assad UN ambassador, is again leading the Assad delegation, while Syria’s main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) is led by Nasr al-Hariri, a senior member with the Syrian National Coalition, one of the largest opposition groups.

Altogether the opposition delegations to the renewed talks consists of 22 members, including those from both political and armed opposition groups in Syria.

Also on Thursday, de Mistura met with a group of Syrian women who came hoping to see some tangible results from the new round of talks.

"Because there are thousands and thousands of mothers, wives, daughters who are hoping that at least this aspect will be one of the benefits of any negotiation, and I cannot disregard that, because I feel very strongly like they do," the UN envoy told reporters.

On Thursday evening, in a ceremony rich in symbolism, Syria’s opposing sides sat face-to-face for the first time in years at the UN-hosted talks aimed at ending the country’s six-year war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more.

Playing down expectations, de Mistura said on Wednesday that he was not expecting miracles in the latest talks, rather bringing the warring sides to the same negotiation table and hoping to build momentum towards peace in Syria.

The last time the Syrian warring parties convened in Geneva was in April last year.

Syrian opposition says UN talks must focus on transition

UN-led Syria peace talks in Geneva must first focus on a political transition, the opposition’s lead negotiator said after UN mediator Staffan de Mistura opened a new round of political negotiations.

"If Staffan is serious he has to stick to the first subject in the agenda which is a political transition that is acceptable to the Syrian people," Nasr al-Hariri told reporters, adding the Assad delegation did not want a transition.

He added that he also feared the role Iran would play behind the scenes. Tehran and Moscow are allies of the Assad regime.

De Mistura will hold meetings with the delegations on Friday to establish a procedure for the talks.

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