MESOP NEWS UPDATE SYRIA – KURDISTAN : UN, Russia Announce Renewal of Political Talks

June 18, 2017 – ISWESTIJA – In separate statements, the UN and Russia have announced their intentions to renew political talks between Syria’s opposition and the Assad regime that have made little progress since January.

The UN said it is seeking another round of talks in Geneva on July 10, while Moscow said it wants discussion in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on July 4-5.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura (pictured) said he envisaged further rounds of talks in August and September. Neither the Assad regime nor the opposition issued a response.In six previous rounds, de Mistura has only been to put forth four areas for negotiation: governance, a new Constitution, elections, and a fight against “terrorism”. Bashar al-Assad said in March that he will not accept a transition in which he gives up power, and the regime has taken no steps to meet demands for an end to bombing and sieges and the release of political detainees.

The head of UN humanitarian operations in Syria, Jan Egeland, said this week that attempts to deliver aid have blocked for more than 40 days, the longest halt in the conflict. Most of the more than 600,000 affected civilians — a conservative figure, according to the opposition and activist groups — have been surrounded by regime forces for years. The last set of talks in Astana, in early May, produced a Russian-Turkish-Iranian document for four de-escalation zones in parts of Syria. However, the Assad regime has continued its bombing and shelling, notably on Daraa in southern Syria and on the southern suburbs. There have also been ongoing attacks in northwest Syria, although the scale has been reduced in the past six weeks.