- Title: U.N. envoy opens new round of Syria talks, downplays Assad's dismissive comments
- Date: 15th May 2017
- Summary: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (MAY 15, 2017) (REUTERS) UNITED NATIONS BUILDING VARIOUS OF U.N. SYRIA ENVOY STAFFAN DE MISTURA, DEPUTY SYRIA ENVOY RAMZY EZZELDIN RAMZY AND U.N. SPOKESWOMAN ALESSANDRA VELLUCCI DURING NEWS BRIEFING JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. SYRIA ENVOY STAFFAN DE MISTURA SAYING: "If being a mediator and trying to find common points is 'being used', I think I would accept that. Because the alternative is no discussion, no hope, no political horizon, just waiting for facts on the ground to take place. And that, I think, is something that a mediator has to take into account." NEWS BRIEFING IN PROGRESS JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. SYRIA ENVOY STAFFAN DE MISTURA SAYING: "I would say that I am aware much more than what the Syrian delegation says to the cameras, and that the meetings that they are done so far with us on the four baskets, and, I want to believe and hope in the next of these meetings, are much more substantive than just those general comments that are made for the cameras. But, facts will prove it." JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. SYRIA ENVOY STAFFAN DE MISTURA SAYING: "The intention, however, this time, is to go a little bit more deeply, and actually be more business-like, both in our meetings and in the way we hope we can get some progress. Even the rooms will be smaller, the type of meetings will be a little bit more interactive and proactive, and more frequent. We will also chose some subjects, to be focused on." JOURNALIST USING LAPTOP (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. SYRIA ENVOY STAFFAN DE MISTURA SAYING: "We would like to be able to make sure that meanwhile, the two are working in some form of sync. I give an example: everybody has been telling us, and we agree, that any type of reduction of violence, in this case de-escalation, cannot be sustained unless there is a political horizon, in one direction or the other. That is exactly what we are pushing for." UNITED NATIONS BUILDING
- Embargoed: 29th May 2017 13:55
- Keywords: talks proximity negotiations peace Geneva opposition Al-Jafaari De Mistura
- Location: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- City: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Switzerland
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA0016GY90EF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura downplayed on Monday (May 15) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's dismissive comments labelling Geneva process as an unsubstantial and null process meant for the media, as he was opening a sixth-round of peace talks in the Swiss city.
During an interview with a Belarusia TV channel last week, Assad said that the Geneva talks were "merely a meeting for the media" and there had been "nothing substantial in all the Geneva meetings".
De Mistura downplayed the comments, saying that Assad's negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari had arrived in Geneva with an 18-strong negotiating delegation. He denied the U.N. was being used as a diplomatic smokescreen for more war.
He added that the United States was increasingly engaged and interested in the process, and hinted at high level diplomacy going on behind the scenes.
The Geneva round talks comes after an agreement by Russia, Turkey and Iran to arrange and monitor "de-escalation" zones in Syria to reduce the fighting, and de Mistura insisted he wanted the Geneva process to take advantage and build on what he sees as a positive outcome of the Astana meeting.
Previous rounds of talks have produced an agreement that the warring sides will discuss a four-part agenda, but no progress has yet been made on any topic, and they have marched at funeral pace, punctuated by grandstanding media appearances by rival negotiators.
This round will be shorter and more business-like, starting on Tuesday (May 16) and ending by Saturday (May 20).
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