The following is an excerpt from AFP.com | February 22, 2017 |
Russia has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop his bombing campaign while peace talks take place this week, but a political breakthrough on the six-year war remains unlikely, the UN's envoy said Wednesday.
Staffan de Mistura's comments came on the eve of a new round of talks in Geneva between negotiators from Syria's regime and the opposition after a 10-month hiatus.
Persistent violence and deadlock over the country's political future, notably that of Assad, remain major hurdles.
"Russia announced to everyone... and to myself that they have formally asked the Syrian government to silence their own skies during the talks," de Mistura told reporters.
But just hours after rival delegations arrived for the resumption of the UN-brokered negotiations, there seemed limited ground for progress on making peace.
"Am I expecting a breakthrough? No, I am not expecting a breakthrough," de Mistura said, noting that "momentum" toward further talks was likely the best that can be hoped for.
The government delegation is headed by Syria's UN ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari and the main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) is led by cardiologist Nasr al-Hariri and lawyer Mohammad Sabra.
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