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Damascus delegation: No conditions created yet for official start of Geneva talks

February 02, 18:53 UTC+3
The discussions should be officially declared open in the presence of the two sides, two delegations, which has not happened yet, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari says
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© EPA/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

GENEVA, February 2. /TASS/. UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura understands that not all conditions have been created for the official beginning of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, head of the Syrian government delegation, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari told reporters on Tuesday.

"No conditions have been created yet. We are in the preparation stage preceding the official beginning of these indirect discussions," he said following meeting with the UN envoy held in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, the headquarters of the UN European office, that lasted more than two and a half hours.

"The discussions should be officially declared open in the presence of the two sides, two delegations, which has not happened yet," Jaafari said.

"De Mistura had a feeling, his own interpretation that actually the conditions for declaring the official beginning of the talks had been created. However, later he realized, and we discussed this with him, that the conditions had not been created yet," he added.

On Monday, February 1, de Mistura said that the indirect intra-Syrian talks had officially begun. He made this statement after holding meetings with both delegations in the Palace of Nations — on January 29 with the government delegation, and on February 1 — with the opposition Supreme Negotiating Committee supported by Riyadh. Meetings with both delegations were expected to be held for the first time in one day. However, at the moment de Mistura’s talks with the delegation of the opposition have not been confirmed.

Jaafar also added that Damascus had not received yet the list of the opposition members who arrived in Geneva.

"We demanded that de Mistura presented the agenda of the talks. Besides, we still do not know who specifically we are to talk with in Geneva. The composition of the delegation from the other side [the Syrian opposition] is unknown," the diplomat said.

Opposition’s approach lacks seriousness, professionalism

The talks in Geneva are still in the preparatory stage, head of the Syrian government delegation, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari told a news conference on Tuesday. He was speaking after the second meeting with UN Secretary-General's special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura held in Geneva’s Palace of Nations where the headquarters of the UN European office is located.

"We demanded that de Mistura presented the agenda of the talks. Besides, we still do not know who specifically we are to talk with in Geneva. The composition of the delegation from the other side (the Syrian opposition) is unknown. How many of them will there be - two, three, four? Nothing is clear yet. Procedural issues are being discussed. Actually, everything is in the initial stage of preparations for the indirect talks," the diplomat said.

Jaafari expressed surprise on behalf of Damascus over the fact that representatives of the Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar-al-Sham extremist groups had been present at the talks between the Syrian opposition members and de Mistura. He promised to give an official assessment of this fact later.

He expressed satisfaction over the fact that the UN Security Council had condemned the terrorist attacks in the suburb of Damascus that claimed dozens of lives. He noted though that he was waiting for response from the Syrian opposition. "We are waiting for a statement from them condemning this terrorist attack," Jaafari said.

Commenting on the preliminary statements of the opposition and their threats to leave Geneva, Jaafari pointed "to the lack of seriousness in the other side’s approaches to the forthcoming negotiations. "These are not professionals, we are dealing with amateurs," he said.

The Syrian diplomat also condemned Saudi Arabia’s statements, the main backer of the opposition, describing them as "irresponsible and unacceptable."

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