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Syria UN-mediated peace talks underway in Geneva

Syria UN-mediated peace talks underway in Geneva

He also played down last week's dismissive comments by Syria's president, who said the Geneva talks were "merely a meeting for the media" and praised the parallel process taking place in Kazakhstan's capital that has been organised by the government's allies Russian Federation and Iran along with key opposition backer Turkey.

"Technical details of this mechanism have not been coordinated yet".

Syria's main opposition bloc, the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC), has indicated more interest in the Geneva negotiations but has attended the Astana talks as well.

At a news conference in Geneva on Monday, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura stressed that the Astana and Geneva peace talks on the settlement of the Syrian crisis worked "in tandem".

De Mistura countered that Assad's negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari had arrived in Geneva with an 18-strong negotiating delegation "empowered for serious discussions".

Observers say the United Nations appears to be scrambling to match Astana's momentum after a landmark deal signed in Kazakhstan on May 4 that would create four "de-escalation" zones across some of Syria's bloodiest battlegrounds.




Numerous rounds of UN-backed talks have fallen short of producing concrete results, although during the last round in March the sides finally began discussing four separate "baskets" of issues: governance, a new constitution, elections and combating "terrorism" in the war-ravaged country.

Although Syrian president Bashar al-Assad recently dismissed the talks as "fruitless", de Mistura pointed out that the government delegation was in Geneva and "is ready to work".

The Astana talks have led to a fragile ceasefire and later the creation of four safe zones in areas most prone to a return to violent unrest.

Assad has brushed off the upcoming Geneva negotiations as "merely a meeting for the media". Not even one per million. He insisted the Syrian government contribution was a much more substantive statement than its remarks to cameras.

"We are looking forward to a positive contribution from the Syrian government to make the Geneva conference a success and what I heard today from the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad gave me hope that the Syrian stance will be constructive during the next meeting", he told reporters.

Another shifting force influencing the talks is the role of the United States, an erstwhile opposition supporter that largely withdrew from the process under President Donald Trump.


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