Syria talks in Geneva resume without regime delegation

 06 Dec 2017 - 13:09

Syria talks in Geneva resume without regime delegation

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GENEVA: The UN-backed Syrian peace talks resumed in Geneva on Tuesday without the regime delegation.

The Syrian government delegation left last week without confirming it would return as opposition delegates insisted that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad should not be part of an interim government.

On Tuesday, the UN’s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura and UN officials met opposition representatives -- the first unified opposition delegation -- for talks aimed at ending the six-year conflict.

After the meeting, chief opposition negotiator Nasr al-Hariri condemned regime air strikes on the besieged rebel-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta.

“While we are here for negotiations, the regime is conducting atrocities and massacres,” he told reporters. “In Eastern Ghouta, we have women and children and wounded who need to be evacuated.

The regime is preventing this from happening.

“The nightmare in Eastern Ghouta shows why we need a political solution to bring relief to the Syrian people. The distance between the wounded and the hospitals is just 45 minutes. But the regime is preventing their rescue.

“It is the responsibility of the international community and the special envoy to announce to the world which party is rejecting negotiation.”

Regime aircraft reportedly killed at least 27 people in Eastern Ghouta on Sunday.

Last month, de Mistura proposed direct talks between the sides with no preconditions. The unified opposition accepted the offer but the regime delegation refused.

The latest round of talks began on Tuesday last week with meetings between de Mistura and the opposition. Regime delegates conferred with de Mistura a day later.

The eighth round of peace talks will continue to Dec. 15.

The negotiations’ “four baskets” -- a new constitution, governance, elections and combating terrorism -- have been discussed, as well as issues such as detainees, abductees, missing persons and humanitarian access.