UN’s troubled Syria peace talks restart in Geneva

UN’s troubled Syria peace talks restart in Geneva

UN’s troubled Syria peace talks restart in Geneva

AFP photo

U.N.-backed Syria peace talks resumed in Geneva on March 23, with little hope of a breakthrough as no concessions were unlikely.  

The United Nations deputy Syria envoy Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy met government negotiators at a high-end hotel in the Swiss city, before heading to another hotel to see the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC).  

“We have started today preliminary talks,” Ramzy told reporters after his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s representatives.  

“We hope we will be starting substantive discussions tomorrow.”  

Ramzy’s boss, U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura, was wrapping up a diplomatic tour of the key powers shaping the conflict, which included trips to Moscow, Riyadh and Ankara.  

He was in Ankara to hold on March 23 talks with Turkish Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary. 

De Mistura was due back in Geneva on the evening of March 23 to take charge of the negotiations which have yielded little in four previous rounds.

The U.N. is aiming for a political deal to end a six-year conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with protests against Assad’s regime.

On the agenda for this round is governance - a political transition, the constitution and elections - as well as counter-terrorism at the request of Damascus.

De Mistura tried to strike an optimistic note when the previous round ended last month, insisting that “everything is ready” for the talks to move forward while reiterating his view that there is no military solution to Syria’s devastating civil war.