UN envoy unsure if new Syrian peace talks will be direct dialogue

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UN envoy unsure if new Syrian peace talks will be direct dialogue.

The United Nations (UN) special envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura, said on Tuesday that it was still not sure whether the new Syrian peace talks would be direct dialogue.

“We are always aiming for direct dialogue.

“The opposition now is unified and said they are ready to have a direct discussion with the government, but I need to ask the government’s position tomorrow if they are ready to do the same,’’ the UN Envoy told Xinhua.

He added that if the time was still not right for a direct negotiation, the new round of the Syrian talks, scheduled to be kicked off later, will still take place in an indirect way or the so-called “proximate talks’’.

De Mistura confirmed the Syrian government team “will arrive’’ on Wednesday.

“We have in the past, from the opposition, some delays in talks, but our door is open. We will test everyone by what they actually do, not only the attention,’’ he said.

“The government is coming tomorrow. The Syrian opposition which has been revitalised in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh has already arrived.

“We will meet them soon and try to help to reduce their differences and remove the obstacles,’’ De Mistura said.

The UN envoy expressed his appreciation to the Chinese government “for the support and advice to this very complicated mission.’’

“As we are prepared for going deeper in this round of the talks, it is important for relevant powers like China to persuade each side to engage more in the process,’’ he said, adding that China had “a unique advantage to talk to both sides.’’

While stressing that the political process should take place in Geneva without any preconditions, De Mistura also said that other initiatives were welcome.

In parallel with the UN-backed Geneva process, seven rounds of Astana talks have been held since January, with Russia, Turkey and Iran as the mediators.

The most significant outcome was the establishment of four de-escalation zones in Syria.

The new round of the Geneva talks also follows a meeting of the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Russia in the Russian resort city of Sochi, where they supported a comprehensive dialogue for Syria.

Opposition groups agreed on unifying a delegation to the fresh round of UN talks, which marks a first for political opposition groups in internationally-backed talks.

The Syrian armed conflict broke out in 2011 and quickly turned into a full-scale war, now entering into its seventh year.

UN figures show that the war in Syria has killed more than 330,000 people and displaced millions so far.

The last round of UN-led talks ended on July 14 without going deeper into scheduled topics.

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