UN Envoy: No Date Set for Syrian Talks

UN Envoy: No Date Set for Syrian Talks

The UN’s Syria envoy says there won’t be a new round of Syria talks for at least another two to three weeks. A flare in fighting and difficulties delivering aid have dashed hopes for a speedy resumption of the process.
UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told the Security Council on Thursday that more progress was needed to bolster a ceasefire and deliver humanitarian aid before talks could resume.
“He briefed on his intention to start the next round of talks as soon as feasible but certainly not within the next two or three weeks,” a statement from the envoy’s office read, AFP reported.
The UN-brokered talks between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and opposition groups were suspended last month without a breakthrough. The negotiations aim to reach a settlement to end the five-year conflict that has killed an estimated 280,000 Syrians and displaced millions.
The 20-nation International Syria Support Group backing the peace process has said it is up to de Mistura to decide when the talks can resume. There had been hopes a new round of negotiations would be called by the end of May, but that prospect has been complicated by an escalation in violence and the persisting challenge of getting aid into besieged areas.
A partial truce brokered by the United States and Russia in February has been gradually unraveling and there have been repeated reports of violations.
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said Washington shared the “frustrations and concerns” of de Mistura.
Kurdish fighters this week launched a ground assault against the self-styled Islamic State terrorists in Raqqa province. The terrosists are not covered by the ceasefire deal.
Earlier on Thursday, de Mistura warned that many Syrians will face starvation if players on both sides of the conflict fail to let humanitarian convoys through to beleaguered towns.
There “are plenty of civilians at the moment in danger of starvation”, he told reporters in Geneva.
“There is a sense of urgency in having the talks resume, because we need to keep the momentum.”

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