Sights set for modest achievements in Syria talks

Mar 03, 2017, 00:39

He added: "Of course we would like to see direct talks between Syrian government delegation and a united opposition delegation, but we must admit that this is not attainable right now".

Syrian regime and opposition negotiators have been in Geneva since last Thursday, but there have been no face-to-face talks, as United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura shuttles between the delegations.

"Things aren't going as smoothly as we would want" in the Geneva talks, President Vladimir Putin told reporters Tuesday during a visit to Kyrgyzstan. De Mistura's meeting with the HNC representatives in Crown Plaza lasted more than two hours.

The talks are governed by U.N. Security Council resolution 2254, which sets out a political transition process including plans for a new constitution, U.N. -supervised elections and transparent and accountable governance.

The opposition wants to discuss "political transition" and, after hearing from de Mistura said they believed that Russian Federation had persuaded Syria's government negotiators that it should be on the agenda of the talks.

Despite the cease-fire, which excludes Islamic State and forces linked to al-Qaeda, fighting is continuing in several areas including near Damascus, the opposition says.

Such a political concession by the government, after major gains on the battlefield, has never been up for discussion, according to past comments by Assad's chief negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari.

The opposition is likewise optimistic that Trump's pledges to roll back Iranian influence will translate into more robust support for the rebels than was the case under the Obama administration.

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Momentum towards the discussion of any substantive political issues in Geneva stalled after last weekend's deadly suicide attack on military installations in the government-held city of Homs.

Meanwhile, the delegation of HNC believes that the fight against terrorism is not a priority at intra-Syrian talks in Geneva as this topic can be discussed in Astana, the official spokesman of the delegation Salem al-Muslim stated.

Earlier in the day, representatives of the delegation met with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

"It's complicated to talk to the Russians".

"The Geneva talks seem to be something that everyone wants because they want to have talks", said Aron Lund, a fellow at the US -based Century Foundation think tank.

As talks on a political resolution of the conflict in Syria continue in Geneva, the Syrian opposition seeks to meet with Russian officials in an attempt to affect Moscow's pro-Damascus stance.

Both sides agreed on the need that the issue of fighting terrorism be among the priorities of the agenda of talks aimed at solving the crisis in Syria.

On March 1, the HNC discussed at a meeting with de Mistura the issues of the Syrian peace process, focusing on political transition in the first place, RIA Novosti reported.

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