April 23, 2017

Syrian peace talks end with clear agenda, says United Nations envoy

06 March 2017, 12:49 | Clarence Schmidt

UN Syria envoy says talks have set agenda for progress on peace

Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to UN New York speaks at a press conference on the Intra Syria peace talks at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

"Everything is ready, it just needs an accelerator", he said at the end of nine days of talks in the Swiss city.De Mistura acknowledged the aim was to hold another round of indirect negotiations later in March, 2017.

However, both sides have laid claim to small victories.

"Yes, we will come", he said, when asked whether he was going to participate in the next meeting on Syria in Astana.

Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy for Syria, announced on Friday the end of the intra-Syrian talks in the Swiss city having secured a finalised agenda - agreed upon by warring sides - for a future round.

His rival, Syrian government negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari, left the talks without commenting.

The rebels even agreed to "provisionally" accept the 12 principles the United Nations laid out for the peace process, laid out as a result of indirect negotiations with the United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura.

The opposition said on Wednesday that terrorism could not be added to the faltering talks. "He has terrorism, but has to engage on transition", one Western diplomat said.

Both sides committed war crimes in Syrian conflict
Last month, the IS-affiliated militants captured several villages and a large town from Syrian rebels in the Daraa countryside. The findings are based on 291 interviews with victims and witnesses, as well as forensic evidence and satellite imagery.

The Geneva negotiations, the first since last April, are aimed at ending a conflict that began in March 2011 with protests against Assad.

"Although we are closing this round without clear results".

According to de Mistura, who acts as mediator between rival delegations, bilateral meetings produced an outline which will form the backbone for future rounds of talks.

"It was first time we discussed in an acceptable depth the issues of the future of Syria and political transition", he added after the talks, the fourth mediated by de Mistura.

Late on Thursday, Russian diplomats met representatives of Syrian armed groups, diplomats and opposition sources said, the second such contact in the past few days.

"Russia is trying to do that to destabilise the talks".

If this is managed, and pending discussions with the UN Secretary General and the Security Council next week, Syrians will now have to rely on the willingness of parties to end a conflict which has killed as many as 400,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes. A shaky ceasefire has been in place since December and separate talks in Kazakhstan, sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, are dealing with military matters.

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