March 20, 2018

Syrian gov't: No direct talks with opposition

15 July 2017, 02:42 | Taylor George

The Latest: UN food agency gains new access to Syria's Raqqa

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura looks during the intra Syrian talks at the UN office in Geneva Switzerland

De Mistura wants to merge the three opposition camps before pushing for direct talks between the government and a unified opposition delegation.

Staffan de Mistura, the special United Nations envoy for Syria, said the Syrian government has not budged in its unwillingness to discuss political transition at the talks in Geneva while President Bashar Assad's representatives have pursued an nearly incessant theme of the fight against terrorism.

According to the Chinese envoy, it is also important to adhere to the principle of self-determination in the political process of the Syrian issue, that is, to let the Syrian people to decide their own future.

Before speaking to the media, the UN envoy had engaged in a telephone interview with members of the UN Security Council in NY about progress in the seventh round of talks that started on July 10 in trying to untangle and bring to an end the protracted conflict in Syria.

The Geneva talks focus on four so-called "baskets" - a new constitution, governance, elections and fighting terrorism. "We need to go technically into details on many subjects", de Mistura said. Jordan was also involved in the partial truce deal.

The U.N. envoy said Friday "I don't have any indication" that Assad's envoys will ever address political transition.

The sides have been meeting separately with de Mistura and his team, but never speaking face-to-face.

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Ja'afari alluded to foreign backers of the main opposition, like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as smaller opposition factions.

Government delegation chief says direct meeting with opposition was not raised with his team at Geneva talks. Because I want, when it happens, that there should not be a row but should be real talks.

The 7th round of intra-Syrian talks kicked off on Monday in Geneva, during which the United Nations envoy held separate meetings with the HNC group, the Cairo and Moscow platforms, as well as the group representing the Syrian regime.

"To us, the broader the opposition the better, but at the same time the most important thing is to have an opposition that is cohesive, can act as one party in the political process".

The U.N. agency says it is now delivering food every month to almost 200,000 people in eight hard-to-reach locations inside Raqqa province as well as other areas in a neighboring province.

A Syrian first responders' group says at least two people were killed in a barrage of airstrikes on the outskirts of Damascus as pro-government forces intensify efforts to push rebels away from Syria's capital.

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