Syrian government says has ‘useful’ talks on substance at UN
GENEVA – Reuters
REUTERS photoThe head of the Syrian government delegation at peace talks in Geneva said he had a useful meeting with U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura on March 18, focusing on a government position paper on the “basic elements of a political solution” of the crisis.
“The approval of this paper which we called the basic elements will lead to a Syrian-Syrian dialogue that is serious and will contribute to the building of our country Syria.
“Approving these principles will open a serious dialogue under Syrian leadership without foreign intervention and without preconditions,” the head of the Syrian government delegation to the indirect peace talks in Geneva, Bashar Ja’afari told reporters, making the shortest media appearance after the longest session of the talks so far.
De Mistura wrapped up a week of fragile peace talks on March 18 after meeting both sides, and urging the regime put forward clear plans for political transition.
De Mistura said agreeing on a unity government to lead Syria out of five years of civil war was the most daunting roadblock to peace.
He praised the main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) for offering “substantive” plans for a transition on March 18.
But the HNC has made the departure of President Bashar al-Assad an unalterable demand, while Damascus has termed any talk of the president’s removal as “a red line.”
“I hope I will get similar in-depth clarity from the government” about options for political transition, the U.N. envoy told reporters.
He described previous talks with the regime this week as “more on the formal side.”
“Time is going by,” he said.
“What we need to do is start looking (at)... what the government sees as a possible political transition.”
Speaking after a meeting between the HNC and de Mistura, HNC member Basma Kodmani said: “We are very keen to avoid a process that does not deliver...De Mistura reasserted that it was a six-month timeframe, hopefully less, but certainly not more. That to us is a reassurance.”
“The timeframe is now set...we are taking the progress seriously,” she added.