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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

UN Special Envoy seeks to bring sides back to the table in Syria peace talks in Geneva

Staffan de Mistura released a statement late on Friday to clarify how the talks were progressing

Staffan de Mistura arrives for a meeting during the Intra Syria talks in Geneva. AFP/Denis Balibouse
Staffan de Mistura arrives for a meeting during the Intra Syria talks in Geneva. AFP/Denis Balibouse

Following the dramatic events of Friday, which saw the Syrian government delegation quit the United Nations-led peace talks in Geneva, the UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, released a statement later on that day to clarify how the talks were progressing.

Mr de Mistura's statement said that "over several rounds of talks, [he] periodically identified commonalities emerging from his separate consultations with the government and the opposition. These included 12 points of commonalities regarding the end-state of Syria.

"Since that time," the statement continues, "the Special Envoy has received valuable proposals regarding the content of the 12 points from the government and the opposition, and he and his team have consulted painstakingly and carefully on all material received.

"He has also received useful insights on principles during consultations with the Women’s Advisory Board and Syrian civil society through the Civil Society Support Room."

Mr de Mistura had thus "shared with the two delegations a document entitled 'Special Envoy’s 12 Living Intra-Syrian Essential Principles'. As he explained to the delegations, these seek to embody end-state commonalities.

"They seek to offer an enduring perspective on the vision of a future that can be shared by all Syrians, and do not address the question of how to realise the vision, which will continue to be developed in parallel with the four baskets.

"They are consistent with and reflect many of the end-state principles contained in Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) and can serve to inform the parallel discussions of the four baskets which remain the agenda of the talks," the statement added.

The document was presented to both delegations on Thursday, and Mr de Mistura "underscored that these remain living, and thus subject to further discussion, development, modification and updating ... to strengthen commonalities in negotiations.

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"The Special Envoy has therefore requested the delegations to further reflect and offer their reactions on the living principles and to engage on baskets 2 (constitutional schedule and process) and 3 (elections) in talks next week."

As reported in The National, the Syrian government's chief negotiator Bashar Al Ja'afari had earlier said that "for us (this) round is over, as a government delegation. [Mr de Mistura] as mediator he can announce his own opinion.

"As long as the other side sticks to the language of Riyadh 2 ..., there will be no progress," Mr Ja'afari said, referring to the position of Syrian opposition delegates at a meeting in Riyadh last week that demanded president Bashar Al Assad be excluded from any transitional government.