April 23, 2017

Putin says new Syria sanctions would hamper peace talks

02 March 2017, 12:45 | Sue Hudson

Syrian opposition accuses Damascus of 'stalling' talks

Participants are seen during the fourth round of the intra Syrian talks marking the first time the Syrian regime and opposition delegations have returned to negotiations in Geneva on 23rd February 2017

The Syrian opposition's delegation to the Geneva peace talks claimed on Monday that they are in possession of evidence about a confidential cooperation between the Assad regime and the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group in Syria.

The strikes come as an opposition delegation gears up to meet Monday with United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura in Geneva to continue talks aimed at resolving Syria's six-year-old war.

Sources added that the drafted constitution will not be approved without holding a popular referendum.

"The fight against terrorism is a priority and it should be on the agenda", said deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov.

Russian Federation on Tuesday called for the opposing sides in the Syrian peace talks to negotiate directly. "It is a result of the fact that you decided on provocation while you knew well ahead of time our position", said Safronkov.

The opposition says political transition - specifically the fate of President Assad - should be added to the discussions.

Two Western diplomats said the Syrian government agreed to study de Mistura's three political concepts.

Six days of United Nations -led talks, the first for nearly 10 months, have focussed nearly entirely on how to arrange more substantive talks in later rounds.

"There is only one objective: to make progress towards a political resolution in the spirit of (UN Security Council) Resolution 2254. and to gain as much as possible from the ceasefire", the source told AFP.

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Hariri accused the government of using increased violence on the ground to foil talks in Geneva.

"This would not help the negotiation process but would only interfere or undermine confidence", Putin said, adding that Russian Federation "will not support any new sanctions in relation to Syria".

The Damascus government has repeatedly sought to characterize the Syrian opposition as too fragmented to take part in any serious negotiation.

About the issue of political transition, Hariri said, "We hope that Russian Federation will have a constructive role in this issue".

Russian Federation has taken over the diplomatic process surrounding the war in Syria since its air force helped government troops defeat rebels in Aleppo, dealing the opposition its largest loss of the war.

UN Syria envoy de Mistura launched the latest round of talks last Thursday, but as in previous sessions there appears little prospect of the two sides' meeting face-to-face.

Earlier in the day, HNC spokesperson Farah al-Atassi told Russia's Interfax news agency that the opposition expected Moscow to recognise the HNC as a full-fledged partner in the negotiations and warned against dragging out the process.

Al-Jaafari "said that terrorism should not be ignored and should be also on the agenda", said Gatilov.

"While the Iran-Russia-Turkey diplomatic push has created new hopes for the settlement of the conflict, the USA and its allies are increasing efforts to escalate tensions and prevent a breakthrough", Jamali said.

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