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No Breakthrough in Syria Peace Talks

UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura attends a new round  of negotiations with a Syrian government delegation during the Intra-Syria talksUN special envoy Staffan de Mistura attends a new round  of negotiations with a Syrian government delegation during the Intra-Syria talks

The seventh round of intra-Syria talks aimed at helping end the country’s six-year-old war wrapped up Friday, and the UN envoy said they featured “no breakthrough, no breakdown, no one walking out, incremental progress.”

Staffan de Mistura, the special UN envoy for Syria, said the Syrian government has not budged in its unwillingness to discuss political transition at the talks in Geneva while President Bashar Assad’s representatives have pursued an almost incessant theme of the fight against terrorism, France 24 reported.

Saying Assad’s envoys claim to be the only ones talking about the fight against terrorist groups, de Mistura said no side should have “ownership” of that issue. He went on to “clarify some thoughts” about terrorism, mostly reiterating longstanding UN positions that he believes have increasingly appeared dormant.

“I felt that there was an expectation for the UN to indicate where we are in the fight against terrorism, which is becoming the main issue being discussed at the highest possible level elsewhere,” de Mistura said during a news conference, apparently referring to the focus of the Trump administration and others on combating terrorism.

Syria’s main opposition group has striven unsuccessfully to put the talks’ spotlight on “political transition” in their country, something sought by a UN Security Council resolution in December 2015. It has been a bedrock text underlying de Mistura’s efforts.

The UN envoy said he has seen no sign that Assad’s representatives would ever discuss political transition. “I have been asking them for the next round to be ready to address the political process,” he said.

De Mistura also noted recent progress in Syria through international diplomacy, such as a temporary truce in parts of southern Syria that was brokered by Jordan, Russia and the United States.

 

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