MESOP NEWS SYRIA DAILY: Opposition Seeks Extension of Geneva Talks


By – Scott Lucas – May 18, 2017 – eaworldview – Syria’s opposition says it wants an extension of the current round of political talks in Geneva, saying more time is needed for indirect negotiations with the Assad regime.The sixth round opened on Tuesday and is scheduled to end Friday. But opposition spokesman Salem Meslet said it was “not right” that only four days were allocated, as time in needed to prepare a response to a working paper presented by UN envoy Staffan de Mistura (pictured).

Meslet said the proposal involved “the constitutional frame” for a political transition. The prospect of a transition is tenuous, however, as Bashar al-Assad has ruled out his departure from power and pro-Assad forces have maintained attacks and sieges since the talks were renewed in late January.De Mistura met the head of the regime delegation, UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari on Wednesday.

The envoy has proposed four areas for discussions: governance, a new constitution, elections, and arrangements to fight “terrorism”. He is now calling for the creation of a team of “consultative” experts from his office, with representatives from the regime and the opposition. The opposition’s Meslet said the talks must proceed without the influence — political or military — of Assad’s main backers, Russia and Iran. He asserted the country’s future must be decided “in Syria — not in Moscow or Tehran”.