Syrian government delegation hands over proposals on crisis settlement to UN

Violet Powell
April 5, 2017

Preserving the cessation of hostilities in place between the Russian-backed Syrian government and rebels since December 30 is seen as key to any hope of progress in Geneva peace talks mediated by U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Geneva, Beirut- The priorities of the Trump administration uncovered by USA officials on Thursday have mixed all the cards on the eve of the end of Syria's fifth round of peace talks held in Geneva.

UN Special Envoy Staffen de Mistura said it was still too early to expect a "breakthrough" in the talks, but said the fact that no one stormed out of the most recent round of talks was extremely encouraging, despite "serious challenges" that yet remain.

"We are in a moment of pushing ahead an agenda".

De Mistura noted that Syrian invitees appeared to be keen to reconvene in the Swiss city to continue with the political track, and that he is seeking to keep discussions open before negotiations resume.

According to the politician, the delegates are expected to hold talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and representatives from Russia's political parties.

"What is taking place on the ground is different to what was agreed in Astana, that is why - unless we see progress on the ground or a different approach on the ground - the defenders of dignity on Syria will decide whether they will participate in the [next] round in Astana or not".

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"However, the other party has taken no steps in these regards", Muslat added, claiming the Bashar al-Assad regime talks team only wanted to discuss terrorism.

And he said that would take patience and time.

Ja'afari said his delegation had given de Mistura documents on all aspects of talks - on elections, constitution, reformed governance and countering terrorism - but the opposition had not responded.

This current round of talks began on March 23 and is expected to end on Friday.

Hariri said the United States remained a friend and there had been no "dramatic change", with the US priority being to fight terrorism and limit also the influence of Iran.

The Syrian Center for Policy Research, however, put the death toll from the six-year conflict at more than 470,000 people.

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