Russia-US Meeting Crucial for Syria Settlement: De Mistura

Russia-US Meeting Crucial for Syria Settlement: De Mistura
Thu Jul 14, 2016 21:42:04

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura says an upcoming US-Russia meeting is critical for the Syria peace process, expressing hope that the event will make progress on resolving the crisis in the Middle Eastern country.

“I think the next few days are crucial in order to make sure we know where they stand. When the two co-chairs agree on something..., that helps a lot,” de Mistura told reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva on Thursday.

The remarks came as US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow later on Thursday.

“Let’s see what happens in Moscow in the next few hours. Let’s hope there is some type of general understanding or progress,” de Mistura said.

The UN mediator further noted that an agreement on stopping bombings and a formula for a political transition in Syria would pave the way for a new round of peace talks and a subsequent peace deal.

The latest round of the UN-brokered indirect negotiations between Syria’s warring sides began in Geneva on April 13, aimed at putting an end to more than five years of conflict in the Arab country.

However, the talks were brought to a halt after the main foreign-backed opposition group walked out of the discussions to protest at what it called the Syrian government’s violation of a shaky ceasefire.

Damascus dismissed the accusation, saying the truce was violated by foreign-backed militants.

The cessation of hostilities brokered by the US and Russia went into effect in Syria on February 27, but it does not apply to the Nusra Front and Daesh terrorist groups.

Syrian government delegation meets United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura during Syria peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland, April 26, 2016. ©AFP

Elsewhere in his remarks, de Mistura said he wanted to “ensure that we have enough, sufficient, critical mass in order to give a sufficient chance for a concrete and effective beginning of the third round of the intra-Syrian talks” possibly in August.

He also noted that Washington and Moscow have conducted a lot of informal diplomacy regarding the peace talks.

The UN envoy further declined to comment on a recent Washington Post report that the US was proposing increased cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Russia against Daesh terrorists and al-Qaeda militants in Syria.

The report, released on Wednesday, said Kerry will discuss the proposal with Russian officials in Moscow.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since March 2011.

According to de Mistura, over 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in the Middle Eastern state, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.

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