Middle East

UN envoy sets April 9 as Syria talks target date

The UN special envoy for Syria has designated April 9 as the “target date” for the resumption of indirect talks between the Syrian government and so-called opposition to resolve the crisis in the war-torn Arab country.

During a press conference at the end of the latest round of Syria talks in the Swiss city of Geneva on Thursday, Staffan de Mistura said his target date to reconvene the negotiations is from April 9, adding, however, that some may turn up as late as April 14.

The Syrian government had asked the talks talks to resume after April 13 as it plans to hold scheduled parliamentary elections in government-held parts of Syria on that date.

The talks will start “at least” on April 9 “but if people want to come on the 13th or 14th they are warmly welcome,” the UN envoy said.

“I am expecting and hoping … that the next round of talks will not be focusing on principles again – we have had enough of that – there are many valid points there, but we have to start focusing on the political process,” de Mistura said.

He said that neither of the sides had refused a document he had drawn up with common guiding principles to underpin the talks.

Elsewhere, he said a political process is needed to sustain the humanitarian aid and ceasefire in Syria.

De Mistura said the ceasefire in Syria has so far saved 3,000 lives.

The UN envoy said he is encouraged by the fact that there has been “no walkouts, no drama” in the latest round of talks.

UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva between the Syrian government and so-called opposition adjourned after 10 days of discussions.

A truce agreement engineered by Russia and the United States, which came into force across Syria on February 27, has been holding despite minor reports of violations.

According to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict in the Arab country has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people and displaced nearly half of its pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.

Damascus accuses Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar of funding and arming anti-Syria terrorist groups, including Daesh.

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