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UN Envoy Plans Syria Peace Talks for February 20

  • VOA News

FILE - U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says he hopes to restart Syrian peace talks on February 20.

The negotiations in Geneva were originally targeted for February 8, but de Mistura said Tuesday he does not think the opposition delegation will have its list of participants assembled in time. He further said that if there is not a list by February 8, he will assemble the list himself and make it as inclusive as possible.

De Mistura briefed the U.N. Security Council on developments in the peace process, which included talks last month in Kazakhstan between the Syrian government and members of the armed opposition.

That round ended with Russia, Turkey and Iran agreeing to serve as monitors of a December partial cease-fire.

The Security Council said the Kazakhstan talks were a step toward a "strengthened cease-fire" and expressed hope that they would lead to progress in finding a political solution to the nearly six-year conflict in Syria.

The council supports a multi-part framework that includes a total halt in fighting and a Syrian-led political transition with a new constitution and new elections.

The plan does not specify what role President Bashar al-Assad might have in the future. That has been a major sticking point in years of attempted negotiations, with the rebels insisting he must leave power and Assad's supporters, including Russia and Iran, saying he should remain in office.

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