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Another round of Syria talks almost over in Geneva

April 22, 2016, 8:34 UTC+3 GENEVA

UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has promised to sum up some results on Friday and decide when and how to move on

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UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

© Xu Jinquan/Pool Phjoto via AP

GENEVA, April 22. /TASS/. The intra-Syrian peace talks round in Geneva, Switzerland, theoretically is at the finish. No date for the end of the current stage of discussions, which started on April 13, has been specified, but the "director" of the negotiations, UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, has promised to sum up some results on Friday and decide when and how to move on.

These results may turn out to be final for the current round. The more so that the largest opposition delegation - the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) that was formed in Riyadh - has left Geneva without waiting for "a go-ahead" from the international community’s emissary. The oppositionists from the Supreme Negotiations Committee said the fulfilment of a number of requirements were the condition for their return, for which they have been criticized by Moscow that accused them of blackmail. However, it is possible that the Syrian government delegation will stay on the shore of Lake Geneva for some more time.

De Mistura’s plans

Mistura told journalists at a briefing on Thursday that tomorrow he would have an opportunity to meet all of them in the afternoon to discuss the next steps. He for the first time over the past three days contacted the media - de Mistura had to leave Geneva for some time due to family circumstances. Apologizing for the absence, the Italian-Swedish-born diplomat said there was no political implications in his trip, however, added nothing, in essence, about the negotiations progress. He promised to analyze the situation and explain it, but not on April 21.

HNC scattering

Meanwhile, HNC that unites the political and military opponents of Syria’s incumbent President Bashar Assad, has demonstrated that the current round is not likely to last long. On April 18, the oppositionists form the Riyadh Group said that they were taking a break in the negotiating process, after which rather contradictory statements were made by the delegation. At first they were withdrawing from the process completely, and the HNC head of Riyad Hijab said he would not agree to compromise and not betray the Syrian revolution cause. After that they made a reservation that there would be no complete withdrawal and that the work would be still continued at a technical level.

The intrigue was resolved when de Mistura spoke to reporters on Thursday - it became known that the key HNC figures - chief negotiator Mohammed Alloush and the delegation head Asaad al-Zoubi left Geneva. It became known later that only a few people who will deal with technical issues will stay in Switzerland after Friday.

The HNC delegation members said the conditions for their return to negotiations were lifting the siege of Syrian cities, stopping shelling attacks by the government army, the release of prisoners. Also, as TASS has learnt, HNC has rejected the proposal of de Mistura that the text of Syria’s new constitution should be developed in Geneva. They want this process to be conducted in Syria, moreover, only after President Bashar Assad steps down.

The ceasefire regime took effect in Syria on February 27. Shortly before, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution supporting a cessation of hostilities. The document drafted by Russia and the United States was backed by all 15 Security Council member states.

The ceasefire regime does not cover the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations as well as other groups ruled terrorist by the Security Council.

Russia takes an active part in the Syrian settlement effort. It helps Syria's authorities fight terrorists and has conducted mine clearing work in Palmyra.

Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

On March 14, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to start, from March 15, withdrawing the main part of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ group from Syria. Putin said the tasks set before the military "have been fulfilled on the whole." Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said strikes on terrorists will continue to be delivered.

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