Geneva Hosts New Round of Syria Talks amid Ceasefire
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The UN's envoy for Syria opened a new round of indirect talks, the seventh so far, between Syrian government representatives and opposition leaders to try to wind down the battered country's civil war.
The start of the talks in Geneva coincided with the first full day of a ceasefire for southern Syria that was brokered last week by the US, Russia and Jordan.
The ceasefire took effect in three provinces in southern Syria on Sunday, with a monitor reporting that the region was mostly quiet despite scattered violations, media reports said.
The ceasefire is the latest agreement reached outside the Geneva framework.
In principle, the new round of Geneva negotiations will focus on four "baskets", namely, a new constitution, governance, elections and combating terrorism.
The talks in Geneva have been held under the auspices of the UN, which has appointed a special envoy for the Syrian conflict. But a parallel series of talks has also been organized and held by Iran, Russia, and Turkey in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.
Iran and Russia are Syrian government allies, while Turkey is a supporter of anti-Damascus groups.
The last round of the Astana talks was held last week, and the sides agreed to meet at the high level in Astana again in late August. Working groups would meet in Iran for preparations in early August.
The three countries agreed in May to set up four “de-escalation zones” in Syria and have since been negotiating to work out the details.
As he arrived for the talks in Geneva on Monday, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporter, "We will work very hard."
De Mistura said after that round that "important gaps remain... on major issues," and that time constraints had stymied progress.
The last round of the UN-brokered talks in Geneva was held in May, and those talks have made relatively less progress compared to the Astana talks.