Assad delegation meets with UN mediator as talks continue

Orient Net 2017-03-02 17:42:00

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The Assad delegation led by Bashar al-Ja’afari met again on Thursday (March 2) with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, a week into talks.

De Mistura is also expected to meet later on Thursday with the Syrian main opposition group, that Russia accused of sabotaging the process at peace talks in Geneva, a day after Moscow foreign ministry officials met the opposition for rare talks on how to narrow their differences.

Despite a ceasefire relatively in force since late December - sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran - violence has escalated since the onset of the talks a week ago appear no closer to actual negotiations.

The opposition considers ’political transition’ as meaning Bashar Assad must hand over power. On Wednesday (March 1), they said that after hearing from UN mediator Mistura, they believed that Russia had persuaded Assad negotiators that a transition should be on the agenda of the talks.

Assad’s chief negotiator al-Ja’afari has never accepted discussion of the subject before.

The talks are governed by UN Security Council resolution 2254, which sets out a political transition process including plans for a new constitution, UN-supervised elections and transparent and accountable governance.

De Mistura wants to put those subjects into three "baskets". Diplomats and a source close to Assad had agreed to study the baskets, but had demanded a fourth basket on "terrorism" be included.

The opposition is reluctant to accept, worrying that the regime would use it to gain time and block negotiations.