Off the wire
Chicago soybeans plunge amid rain forecast for Argentina  • Albania in line with EU policies on Israel-Palestine issue: FM  • Finland gives its first gender equality prize to German Chancellor Merkel  • Malta sees above average proportion of online sales  • U.S. stocks tick down after Fed hikes rates  • 1st LD: Death toll rises to 2 in two stabbing incidents in Dutch city Maastricht  • Xinhua Middle East news summary at 2200 GMT, Dec. 14  • Spotlight: 8th round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva ends with nothing but division  • Brazil raises growth forecast as economic recovery continues  • Ronaldinho mulls move into politics  
You are here:  

Roundup: UN regrets "missed opportunity" as new round of Geneva talks on Syria fails to move ahead

Xinhua,December 15, 2017 Adjust font size:

GENEVA, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- The UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said Thursday evening that the way Intra-Syrian peace talks proceed will come after he speaks to the Security Council as the eighth round ended Thursday without "real negotiations" taking place.

The UN official is expected to leave Geneva to consult in New York with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on further steps, where he will also meet with the UN Security Council next week.

He told a press conference after announcing the end of the new round of the UN-led Geneva peace talks on Syria that the last two weeks of talks had not yielded the intended results despite great efforts, which he described as a "missed golden opportunity".

"Though a lot of efforts by my whole team have been made, day and night, with all sorts of creative formulas, we only have bilateral discussions with both parties, we did not have real negotiations," de Mistura said.

The UN envoy said that both the government side and the opposition group had accused each other of setting preconditions, but there had been none in Geneva before the talks proceeded.

"I really hoped the diplomacy, not only ours, will help the government and the opposition to actually do what is expected and what was expected," he emphasized.

He said during the last two weeks, he had seven meetings with the government and 11 with the opposition.

"The opposition in particular engaged with us on all four baskets -- governance, constitutional process, elections and countering terrorism. They also gave me some concrete ideas on the so called 12 essential principles. The government engaged with me only on terrorism," he said.

"We did not see the government looking to have a dialogue in this round, I have to say, regrettably, I did see the opposition trying to," said the UN envoy, adding that "there is no alternative but to have the legitimacy of the UN".

He said as well as reporting back to the UN Security Council in New York, he would also seek advice from special ambassadors of the Permanent Five members of the Security Council who he has been consulting.

"I will probably need to come up with new ideas, parameters, about how to move the talks forward, particularly on constitution and elections," de Mistura said.

"We are not going to give up at the moment," he said when "the Syrian people believe there should be some process without precondition," he told the reporters, stressing that there is clearly a desperate need for "a real political process".

Saying that the two weeks were not wasted, the UN official told reporters that during this round of talks he had the opportunity of hearing many Syrian voices, from the civil society, the Syrian Women Advisory Board, and Syrian refugees.

"You try harder and you fail better," he said.

Earlier in the day after the meeting with de Mistura, the head of the Syrian government delegation to the Syrian peace talks Bashar al-Ja'afari said his team would not talk to the opposition delegation due to a statement it released before the current talks began, known as "the Riyadh communique".

After a meeting with de Mistura in Geneva, al-Ja'afari told reporters that Syria did not want the talks to fail, but the opposition had come with "a precondition" it set in November at a conference known as "Riyadh 2".

At the conference, a declaration was issued that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not have a role to play in the country's future political transition.

"As long as the Riyadh 2 communique stands, we will not engage in direct talks," said al-Ja'afari.

Earlier this week, the Syrian opposition delegation said "there is an opportunity here in Geneva this week that we must take for the sake of our people".

"The opportunity is to sit down, face to face, under the chairmanship of the UN Special Envoy, and begin negotiations on political transition," the opposition delegation said in a statement issued after meeting with de Mistura.

The new round of UN-led Syrian peace talks started on Nov. 28 and was originally scheduled to be held until Dec. 15. The major obstacle for any expected breakthrough was described by the UN as a lack of trust.

In parallel with the UN-backed Geneva process, a new round of the Russia-led international negotiations on the settlement of the Syrian conflict is scheduled for Dec. 21 and 22 in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Enditem