UN envoy hails small gains in latest Syria peace talks
Geneva, Switzerland - The UN Syria envoy closed the latest round of sputtering peace talks late on Friday insisting ‘ incremental progress’ was made, driving hope that face-to-face negotiations between rebels and the Damascus regime may soon be possible.
UN mediator Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva that he planned to convene an eighth round of talks in early September and had instructed all sides, including the regime, to be ready to tackle the flashpoint issue of political transition.
The main opposition High Negotiations Committee says political transition means the departure of President Bashar Assad. Assad’s delegation, led by Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar al Jaafari, has declared the President’s fate off limits.
De Mistura said he has not seen any indication that the regime is willing to talk about forming a new government in Syria but voiced hope that international pressure could move the needle. “We have made, as we were expecting and hoping, incremental progress. No breakthrough, no breakdown, no one walking out,” de Mistura said.