UN’s Syria Envoy Extends Talks Until July

The UN's peace envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has extended wide-ranging talks in Geneva by another month until July, his spokeswoman said Wednesday, according to the AFP news agency.

The spokesman, Jessy Chahine, said the talks, launched on May 5 to allow separate consultations with regional and domestic players in the hope of reviving stalled dialogue on the conflict, would continue next month.

She said de Mistura and his deputy had so far met with Syrian government officials, the Syrian opposition coalition and 39 Syrian political and civil society groups.

"They have also held 26 meetings with representatives of concerned member states from the Security Council and the region, as well as regional organizations," she said.

"This process is expected to continue into July," Chahine said.

Iran has participated in the negotiations for the first time after having been excluded from two previous unsuccessful rounds in Geneva.

The UN peace envoy said "there was a general consensus that there cannot be a military solution to the Syrian tragedy," and underscored the need for "an inclusive and Syrian-led and owned political solution."

Chahine said de Mistura would brief UN chief Ban Ki-moon on his findings in the coming weeks.

Syria's conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests. After a regime crackdown, it spiraled into a civil war that has now killed more than 230,000 people, according to the Britain-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

De Mistura is the third UN envoy to tackle Syria's conflict, and had previously angered rebel groups by saying President Bashar Al-Assad  was as "part of the solution" to the conflict in Syria.

In response to those comments, rebels in Aleppo rejected de Mistura’s proposal for a temporary ceasefire in Aleppo.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196577

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