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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

UN envoy says 'pause' in Syria talks until Feb 25

The UN special envoy for Syria announced on Wednesday a "temporary pause" until February 25 of troubled talks in Switzerland aimed at ending the civil war.

"There's more work to be done," Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva.

His comments came after several days of fruitless talks aimed at starting indirect negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition.

The hoped-for six months of indirect "proximity talks" are part of an ambitious roadmap agreed by outside powers embroiled in the conflict in November in Vienna.

The opposition umbrella group High Negotiations Committee (HNC) only reluctantly arrived in Geneva on Saturday, a day after representatives from President Bashar al-Assad.

The HNC was insisting on immediate steps including humanitarian aid getting through to besieged cities, a halt to the bombardment of civilians and the release of prisoners.

It was also outraged that while in Geneva a major offensive by the Syrian army and allied militias was happening on the ground near Syria, backed by intense Russian air strikes.

The government delegation meanwhile complained that the HNC was disorganized, had not named its negotiators and that the body contained individuals it considered "terrorists".
(AFP)
 [i24news.tv]
3/2/16
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  • Syria conflict: UN suspends peace talks in Geneva...

The UN has suspended peace talks aimed at ending Syria's five-year civil war, the organisation's special envoy has said.

Staffan de Mistura called the temporary halt, saying there had been a lack of progress in the first week.
The talks opened just two days ago but are due to resume again on 25 February.
The move came as the Syrian government claimed a major blow against the opposition by cutting a key supply route to rebel-held Aleppo.

Syrian state television reported that government forces had broken the siege of Nubul and Zahraa, two towns north-west of Aleppo.

On the talks, Mr de Mistura admitted "there's more work to be done".

"It is not the end and it is not the failure of the talks," he said.

"Why? They came and they stayed. Both sides insisted on the fact that they are interested in having a political process started."

More than 250,000 people have died in almost five years of war in Syria.

Eleven million others have fled their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other, as well as the Islamic State group...
 [BBC]
3/2/16

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