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Incremental Progress Made Toward Syrian Peace Deal, Envoy Says

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura talks with journalists as he arrives at a conference on the situation in Syria and Iraq held by Catholic charities operating in those regions, at the Vatican, Sept. 29, 2016.

Staffan de Mistura has been trying for nearly three years to achieve a political settlement to end Syria's civil war, which has just entered its seventh year.

The U.N. special envoy for Syria does not underestimate the serious challenges that exist, but he says there has been incremental progress and that all sides are engaged in serious, substantive negotiations during the fifth round of peace talks.

Deal will take patience, time

The group discussed a broad range of issues, including governance, the political transition, elections and counterterrorism measures.

“Both the government and the opposition demonstrated a new form of maturity and commitment to continue the process notwithstanding mutual recriminations and notwithstanding the fact that there are many serious, grave developments taking place on the military side inside the country,” said de Mistura.

De Mistura said the negotiations were moving on several parallel fronts and nothing would be agreed to until everything was agreed to. And he said that would take patience and time.

“Last time we said that the train is in the station already,” said de Mistura. “I think we can say, especially Switzerland, where trains are very precise, that the train is moving out of the station, slowly, but moving out of the station.”

Envoy quiets rumors

De Mistura ended rumors about his imminent resignation as special envoy by saying they should be taken seriously only if either he or the U.N. secretary-general announces that he is leaving.

For now, he plans to go to New York next week to consult with the secretary general and the Security Council on a date for the sixth round of intra-Syrian peace talks.

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