The joint United Nations-Arab League mediator for Syria says if the government goes ahead with a presidential election in the coming months, it could jeopardize peace talks with the opposition.
Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters after briefing the Security Council Thursday that the opposition would probably not be interested in talking to the government.
Damascus has not officially announced a presidential election, but there are activities indicating it will occur. An election would have to be held by July.
Western diplomats say the vote likely would be rigged to ensure another seven-year term for President Bashar al-Assad. They say the opposition would have no incentive to return to the talks.
Two rounds have so far made no progress in ending Syria's civil war, which has now entered its fourth year.
The opposition demands the peace talks focus on setting up a transitional government which is likely to exclude Mr. Assad. Syrian officials want to talk about fighting what they call terrorism. They use the word "terrorists" to describe the rebels.
Brahimi has proposed a parallel track for talks. The Syrian government has yet to respond.