Syria: UN to convene protagonists for new talks in Geneva next week

The office of the UN mediator in the Syrian intra-talks indicated Monday that the mediator would meet with protagonists in Geneva for a new round of talks, few days after Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to create “de-escalation zones”.

“Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura will reconvene the intra-Syrian talks under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva on 16 May 2017,” the UN said in a statement.

The May 16 talks in the Swiss town will add to a series of other fruitless talks.

The next week talks come on the heel of Astana conference between Russia, Iran both backers of the Syrian regime and Turkey supporting the rebels. In the Kazakh capital, the three agreed to create de-escalation zones in a move to bolster a cease fire agreement signed in December.

The de-escalation zones agreement, which has been reinforced, will lead to halt of hostilities between regime forces and rebels and allow aid to reach displaced populations.

Staffan de Mistura who was at the signing of the agreement hailed the Russian initiative as “an important, promising, positive step in the right direction” toward de-escalation, the AFP reports.

The UN envoy hopes the Astana document “will be implemented in full — thus bringing about a significant de-escalation in violence, and helping shape an environment conducive to the political intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.”

Previous talks failed over several issues including the fate of President Bashar al Assad and violence on the ground.

Over 320,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the beginning of the crisis in March 2011.

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