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Syrian peace talks in Geneva to continue till Dec 15

IANS | Geneva |

The UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has said he is planning to extend the ongoing UN-led Syrian peace talks till December 15.

The new round of the talks, started on Tuesday, was originally scheduled to close on Friday (December).

The UN official described the talks this week as “professional and serious” when he addressed a press briefing on the intra-Syrian talks which began in Geneva with low expectations on their outcome, Xinhua news agency reported.

He described the atmosphere as different to previous times “on both sides”.

“The biggest obstacle is trust,” said de Mistura on Thursday, noting that this has always been the case in the Syrian negotiations. “We have to have a process of political dialogue; there is not military solution,” he said.

The Syrian opposition delegation arrived for the start of the talks on Tuesday, while the government delegation under Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari arrived a day later.

“We are still at the beginning if you want to look at in the context of December 15,” said de Mistura, adding that the present round is scheduled to last until that date with all parties participating “without preconditions”.

He said that he held “very close proximity parallel meetings” on Thursday with the two parties, shuffling between two rooms five meters apart, but there had been no interaction between them.

The UN envoy expected that the Syrian government delegation will return home for discussions at the weekend and return to Geneva on December 5 to resume discussions.

He was asked if Russian talks scheduled in Sochi next year were a counter measure to the UN talks.

“Every single member country of the Security Council… has been clearly indicating and repeating that the only process for the political process is the one led by the UN mandated by the Security Council linked to (Resolution) 2254 and based in Geneva,” answered de Mistura.