UN Envoy Suspends Intra-Syrian Talks for Three Weeks

World | February 4, 2016, Thursday // 10:57
Bulgaria: UN Envoy Suspends Intra-Syrian Talks for Three Weeks Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, speaks to the press in Geneva, Switzerland, 03 January 2016. Photo: EPA

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura suspended on Wednesday the intra-Syrian peace talks for three weeks due to differences between the government and opposition delegations.

In his words, the suspension became necessary after it emerged that the two delegations had different priorities as regards humanitarian issues.

This development comes only two days after the official start of the UN-mediated talks on ending the ongoing conflict in Syria.

The UN envoy said that prior to the beginning of the talks, he had demanded for an immediate implementation of a humanitarian initiative, including lifting sieges and providing access to humanitarian aid to all places which are unreachable at the moment.

He had been reassured by both sides that these measures will be implemented during the talks.

However during the talks, differences between the delegations emerged, with the government saying that there were some procedural issues before discussing the humanitarian dimension, while the opposition stressed that it was urgently feeling the need for the Syrian people.

De Mistura assured that this suspension was only a “temporary pause” and did not signify the end or failure of the talks.

According to him, both sides expressed interest in continuing the political process, with the talks expected to resume on February 25.

From the beginning of the talks, the UN envoy has recognised the difficulties in ending a war which has killed more than 250 000 people, made four million to flee the country and displaced 6.5 million internally.

The talks began officially on Monday when the UN envoy met for two hours with the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) at the UN headquarters in Geneva.

This was followed by a meeting with representatives of the Syrian government on Tuesday.

The talks between the two sides are not face-to-face, but rather indirect, involving “close proximity diplomacy” with the UN envoy shuttling between the two delegations in different rooms.

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Tags: UN, Syria, Staffan de Mistura, humanitarian aid, HNC
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