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28 January 2018, 12:36 | Floyd Cook
Syrian Peace Talks Resume in Vienna as Russian Meeting Looms
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will send his Syria peace negotiator to the conference in Russian Federation next week, a spokesman said in New York Saturday, despite the Syrian opposition's boycott of the meeting.
Those talks stretched late into Friday night, with both regime officials and the SNC meeting separately with UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura - who did not strike an especially optimistic tone after the gruelling negotiations.
The United Nations will make a fresh push from Thursday to jump-start Syrian peace talks, as violence continues to rage in a seven-year-old war that has killed more than 340,000 people.
Syria's main opposition group on Saturday (Jan 27) said it would boycott Russian peace talks next week in a major blow to Moscow's diplomatic efforts towards resolving the brutal conflict.
Syrian government forces are pursuing offensives against two remaining rebel pockets, Idlib in the northwest and eastern Ghouta near Damascus.
De Mistura has presided over a sporadic series of talks in Geneva, with a mandate to discuss new elections, reformed governance, a new constitution and the fight against terrorism. And we didn't see this commitment.
Having regained the upper hand in the nearly seven-year civil war, President Bashar al-Assad appears far from ready to negotiate with foes at all, let alone step down as part of any peaceful solution as rebel groups have demanded.
The talks will last for two days.
"All external supporters of the political process should encourage the opposition and government delegations to engage genuinely in the talks, focus squarely on these topics and, at least initially, set aside other issues", it said.
"Our people have not and will never accept a solution that is parachuted onto them or that is carried on tanks", he said in a statement to reporters. Only 60,000 of the 2.5 million Syrians in "hard to reach" areas had received humanitarian aid, the United Nations chief said in his report on the humanitarian situation in Syria delivered Friday to the Security Council.
"I will, and I have been doing it tonight, fully brief the Secretary-General on the outcome of the Vienna meeting".
The Syrian National Dialogue Congress is due to take place in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi on January 29-30.
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