UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks at a news conference at Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Xu Jinquan/Pool
By Tom Miles
GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura put the emphasis on the international fight against terrorism on Friday as he wrapped up a round of Syria peace talks at which there was “no breakthrough, no breakdown and no one walking out”.
Speaking at a news conference after briefing the U.N. Security Council by video, de Mistura said he felt the U.N. was expected to say where it stood on the fight against terrorism, which he said was “becoming the main issue being discussed at the highest possible level elsewhere.”
Discussion of terrorism has been a constant demand of the Syrian government since the series of talks began early last year, and it was added to the formal agenda earlier this year, along with talks about a new constitution, reformed governance and fresh elections.
The main opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, wants a focus on political transition, meaning an end to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
De Mistura said Assad’s negotiators had not given any indication that they were willing to discuss transition.
“But what I do believe is that what are going to be the next steps of the international community in wanting to see an acceleration of the end of this conflict may help the government to be ready to address the political process,” he said.
Although the Syrian government has repeatedly described opposition representatives as terrorists, de Mistura said he hoped to push all sides to at least sit in the same room during the next round of talks in September.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)