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UN to Send Envoy to Russia-Sponsored Syria Talks

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura gives a press conference closing a round of Syria peace talks at the European headquarters of the United Nations offices in Geneva, Dec. 14, 2017.

The United Nations says it will participate in the Russian-sponsored Syrian peace meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi next week now that some of its concerns have been allayed. The U.N. has just wrapped up two days of U.N.-mediated peace talks with Syrian government and opposition delegations in Vienna.

The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres has decided to send his special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to the Sochi meeting, which opens Monday. De Mistura said a Russian statement persuaded the secretary-general that the U.N. should participate in the so-called Black Sea Peace Congress.

“I took note of the statement by the Russian Federation that the outcome of the congress would be brought to Geneva as a contribution to the intra-Syrian talks process under the auspices of the U.N.”

Gutteres said he was confident the congress in Sochi will be an important contribution to a revived intra-Syrian talks process mediated by the U.N. in Geneva.

Critics of the Sochi Congress, which is backed by Turkey and Iran, accuse Russia of trying to hijack the Syrian peace process from the United Nations and come up with a result that favors the government of Bashar al-Assad. Syria’s opposition group agrees and says it will boycott the Sochi meeting.

De Mistura says the only sustainable solution to the Syrian crisis is through an inclusive Syria-led political process.

“The ultimate goal of a constitutional process is to enable the Syrian people to freely and independently determine their own future in U.N.-supervised parliamentary and presidential elections meeting the requirements laid out in resolution 2254,” de Mistura said.

Security Council resolution 2254 sets out the U.N.’s road map for peace in Syria. Under the mandate, de Mistura notes a new constitution will be drawn up in Geneva under the auspices of the so-called Geneva process.