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De Mistura: UN Hopes to Reach Deal on New Syrian Gov't During Geneva Talks

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UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura told Sputnik that reaching an agreement on a new all-inclusive government would be one of the key points during upcoming peace talks in Geneva.

GENEVA (Sputnik) – The United Nations hopes that the first round of resumed intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva will result in an agreement on a new government, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura told Sputnik.

"The most important point is the three-point agenda, which has been defined by the Security Council and which the Russian Federation adopted, too, which is resolution 2254. The first one is an all-inclusive new government," de Mistura said in an interview.

According to the UN envoy, the other two key issues to be discussed at the Geneva talks between the Syrian government and opposition delegates are the adoption of a new constitution and the holding of elections.

“The second one is a new constitution and the third one is new elections in 18 months from the beginning of the talks, so from the 14th of this month, to provide both parliamentarian and presidential elections and the UN supervision in 18 months. So my hope is that we may progress, on paper or not on paper, but to progress on, at least, on the first item during the first phase of these talks,” de Mistura said.

Issues Unresolved During Intra-Syria Peace Talks to Be Discussed in ISSG Format

Issues that remain unresolved after the March 14-24 talks between the Syrian government and the opposition will be discussed in the format of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), Staffan de Mistura told Sputnik.

"Any progress that we will make or any difficulty we will face, and we are going to face difficulties because the sides are far away still, will be confronted and brought to the attention of the ISSG and if that is not sufficient, it can be brought to the attention of the [UN] Security Council."

The first round of talks between the Syrian government and representatives of the country's opposition began in Geneva on January 29. On February 3, de Mistura decided to postpone the talks as the parties were unable to reach a compromise on a number of issues. The intra-Syria peace talks are resuming on March 14 and will last until March 24.

"I am expecting them [ISSG] to have a meeting in March or April certainly in light of what we will be achieving and in light of the progress which, I hope, will continue to be there of the cessation of hostilities," the envoy said.

The ISSG was formed in November 2015 shortly after the beginning of Syria peace talks in Vienna as an international format with the goal of resolving the internal crisis in Syria.

"The great thing about ISSG, as you know, it is co-chaired by the United Stated and Russia. This has been a big new change. They called the meeting once a month, at least, but also if there is a special reason to do so," de Mistura explained.

Resumed Intra-Syria Talks to Start With UN Envoy Meeting Syrian Government Delegation

"I plan to have the first substantive, deeper discussion on Monday already and from then, until the 24th [of March], to have many meetings with the different components of the Syrian environment," de Mistura said adding that the "tradition is that the first meeting is always with the government."

According to the UN envoy, a new approach is being adopted for the meetings called "proximity staggered talks" which will allow de Mistura to meet various groups both at the UN office in Geneva, as well as at the hotel or other places.

"Flexibility is the name of the game. The most important thing is an outcome and second – inclusivity," de Mistura said.

UN Envoy Does Not Exclude Addition of More Groups, Possibly Kurds, to Syria Peace Talks

"We are not issuing new invitations. We [are] just telling to those who were participating before — come back, the suspension is over," de Mistura explained.

When asked whether that means that new invitations for the intra-Syria peace talks would not be issued at all for any future rounds of the talks, de Mistura declined to be specific.

"I didn’t say that," he told Sputnik.

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Kurds, Intra-Syria talks, International Syria Support Group (ISSG), United Nations, Staffan de Mistura, Syria, Geneva
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