De Mistura: New Syrian Ceasefire Generally Holding

The US and Russia brokered ceasefire in Syria’s southwest is serving as a positive backdrop for a new round of UN backed peace talks in Geneva.

The United Nations Special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura praised the truce as negotiations got underway Monday. A seventh round of United Nations backed Syrian peace talks began in Geneva, boosted by the news of a fresh ceasefire in the south-west of the country.

The truce was brokered by US, Russian and Jordanian diplomats last week and announced at the G-20 summit on Friday. The UN believes it’s a step in the right direction.

But the UN Special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura played down the chances of further significant progress in the coming days.

“We are not expecting therefore breakthroughs because we are part of all this. And we want to be supportive of this. But some incremental developments yes. And we are doing a lot of homework and we plan to do it during these days so it can be used at the right time,” de Mistura said.

The talks will again focus on four key areas: a credible non-sectarian transitional government, a future constitution, free elections within eighteen months as well as a united war against terrorism.

The main Syrian opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, said the talks are unlikely to make much progress in those areas.

“Well not much actually. Too many things are happening. Too many hands are getting into the skies of Syria and the ground of Syria. We hope that the regime would get serious and get involved in the peace talks,” Yahya Al-Aridi a member of the High Negotiations Committee said.

The Syrian government delegation and the opposition groups are not expected to hold face to face talks during the week.



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