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Next round of Syria talks to open on March 9: UN envoy

1 March 2016 20:51



UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said Tuesday the next round of negotiations to end the deadly conflict in the Arab country will kick off on March 9.

He changed an earlier decision based on which the talks were set to resume on March 7.

“We are delaying it to the afternoon of the 9th for logistical and technical reasons and also for the ceasefire to better settle down,” de Mistura said, adding that the meeting would not be delayed further.

He had said earlier that the talks could be postponed based on the situation on the ground. “We don’t want discussions in Geneva to become a discussion about infringements or not of the ceasefire, we want them to actually address the core of everything.”

A ceasefire agreement in Syria brokered by Russia and the United States entered into force on February 27 amid hopes the truce would lead to an end of nearly five years of war.

Damascus also accepted the terms of the truce on the condition that military efforts against the Takfiri Daesh and the al-Nusra Front terrorists, who are not included in the ceasefire agreement, continue.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday that the army has so far refrained from responding to breaches of the ceasefire in the country but there are “limits” to its patience. 

He added that the cessation of hostilities is a “glimmer of hope,” and stressed that Damascus would play its part “to make the whole thing work.”

The UN is hopeful that the truce would make it possible to send humanitarian aid to besieged areas in Syria and also provide an opportunity to revive the peace talks, which fell apart a month ago before even being started after the foreign-backed opposition refused to continue the discussions in the wake of Syrian army gains.

Elsewhere in his comments, the UN envoy called on Moscow and Washington to share information and take care of the truce, noting that they should share common maps of the battlefield and monitor the situation with drones and satellites to ensure the implementation of the truce.

The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which started in March 2011, has claimed the lives of some 470,000 people and left 1.9 million injured, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

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