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PRESS RELEASE


UN Syria Envoy De Mistura Convenes Syria Peace Talks in Geneva

Nov. 30, 2017 (EIRNS)—UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura convened the eighth round of peace talks on Syria, today, with both the government and opposition delegations in the same building, though not in the same room. According to video and transcript posted by the UN, de Mistura told both delegations that

"the subject we are going to address today is of fundamental importance for anything we do in the context of 2254 and the four baskets which are the fundamental principles."

The four baskets for discussion de Mistura referred to are: a new constitution, governance, elections and combatting terrorism. De Mistura characterized today’s format as "close proximity parallel meetings" which meant that the two delegations were in separate rooms, but were across the corridor from each other, allowing de Mistura and his staff to quickly move back and forth between them, as opposed to previous round where the two delegations were in separate buildings. Discussions are expected to address the issue of detainees, abductees and missing persons, along with the need for full humanitarian access in any besieged or hard-to-reach areas, such as Eastern Ghouta.

De Mistura issued a statement last night, calling on both sides to refrain from "statements aimed at delegitimising other invitees." Reuters reported that at the end of the day, the two delegations left separately, without making statements to the media.

It’s not at all clear what will happen if and when de Mistura brings the two delegations together in the same room. Elements of the opposition delegation, now called the Syrian Negotiating Commission, still are demanding, as Syrian National Council chief Nasr Hariri told reporters on Nov. 28, that Syrian President Bashar al Assad step down before a political transition can begin. Mohannad Dlykan, a member of the opposition who is associated with the Moscow Platform which is less rigid on that question, told Sputnik yesterday that "This is now the biggest difficulty and problem."