Following reports that the opposition delegation had announced a pause in the intra-Syrian talks under way at United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, the UN envoy mediating a resolution to the crisis said today that he plans on continuing discussions with all sides and take stock of the situation on Friday.
“On the political track, we should not, and no one should, expect that after five years of conflict, a political transition by miracle in one week is sold. Let’s be frank about that,” Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, told the press after separate meetings with the delegations of the Syrian Government and the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC).
“In fact, indeed, there is one major improvement in what we used to have: everybody agrees the word ‘political transition’ is the point of the agenda. So far our discussion with the two sides has been focusing on what is the interpretation of the political transition, but (there is) no doubt about the need of doing that,” he added.
Mr. de Mistura said the HNC told him of their intension to remain in their hotel in Geneva, and possibly, at his suggestion, to pursue technical discussions with himself and his team, particularly on the issues related to Security Council resolution 2254 and the political transition.
“They do realize that this requires time and cannot be solved in one week or three days,” he stressed.
The envoy said he plans to continue discussions and consultations with every side, “in the Palais or anywhere else,” and on Friday will “take stock of the discussions, review what we have come up with, having learned from every side their own positions, and then decide on how and when to move forward on what is expected to be a series of discussions, on and off, in order to focus on concrete political transition.”
It is no secret, Mr. de Mistura said, that one side is insisting on the implementation of the Transitional Governing Body and the other side – the Government – has been indicating their interest in launching an initiative for a broad-based Government.
“Both of them are claiming that this is the road towards political transition. The gap is clearly wide, but this is exactly the nature of negotiations. Especially when the agreement exists about the fact that there is no doubt that there needs to be a political transition, according to Security Council resolution 2254,” he said.
“Our strategy is to be able to get, from each of the two sides, as much information as possible of their own vision and see whether there are some areas that can be combined in view of the need of producing a real political transition,” he continued.
“As you know, the timetable is up to August. That is what has been so far seen as a timetable for getting a new constitution and getting the political transition. So, we do have some time, not much in history, but we do, and it is certainly not today or tomorrow,” he said.
Providing an assessment of developments in Syria, Mr. de Mistura noted that the cessation of hostilities is still holding in many areas, but that there is an increase in fighting.
“No one can deny that the fighting currently taking place in some areas, particularly in Aleppo, is becoming particularly worrisome,” he said.
In addition, the envoy said that humanitarian access is still “going too slowly.” Some convoys might be moving tomorrow, and there were indications about evacuations of wounded and sick people. There might also be some vaccination campaigns over the weekend, although progress on that front was also too slow. Both issues and concerns would be raised at the two task forces tomorrow, he said.
“Indeed, if this trend continues, which is still worrisome, we will be obviously expecting and hoping that the two co-chairs of [the International Syria Support Group] ISSG will be convening a special meeting,” he said.
Mr. de Mistura added that there was a small fact-finding mission in Daraya, led by Khawla Mattar, who is working on behalf of his office. Ms. Daraya will report tomorrow, he noted.
Source: United Nations
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