United Nations mediator wraps up 'tough' Syria talks in Geneva

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

The talks, that included a delegation representing the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad and three opposition groups, were the first to be held in more than a year.

"It was first time we discussed in an acceptable depth the issues of the future of Syria and political transition".

"There is movement from both sides".

The UN Special Envoy for Syria said Friday that the latest round of Syria peace talks has yielded tangible progress, and that he plans to reconvene with delegations later this month for a fifth round of negotiations seeking to broker an end to the six-year conflict.

Russian representatives met both sides behind the scenes, according to Reuters news agency. But there had been one breakthrough, he added - an "icebreaker" meeting late on Thursday with the largest opposition delegation at the talks.

In eight days of talks, the warring sides have not negotiated face-to-face, but haggled over the agenda with United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura, who wants to discuss a new constitution, elections and reformed governance.

"They need language that ensures the process is not hijacked by the government to distract from political transition". But the scope of these negotiations was at least narrower than a year ago when he was also coping with demands for a ceasefire and a prisoner release.

Past peace efforts have failed, often as a fractured opposition succumbed to pressure from events on the battlefield, having failed to penetrate Ja'afari's steely intransigence.

Syria's first U.N. -led peace talks in nearly a year ended on Friday without breakthrough but the United Nations mediator said the warring parties now had a clear agenda to pursue a political solution to the country's six-year-long conflict.

Another separate round of talks in Kazakhstan, sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, and dealing with military issues, is also expected to go ahead later this month.

"The so-called High Negotiations Committee is refusing to cooperate equally with the Moscow and Cairo platforms and is in fact sabotaging fully fledged dialogue", she said, referring to two smaller opposition groups that curry favor in Moscow. "Everything is ready, it just needs an accelerator", he said at the end of nine days of talks in the Swiss city.

As well as incremental trust, the upkeep of a ceasefire brokered by Russian Federation and Turkey last December and improved humanitarian access in the war-torn country are seen as key factors if future talks are to avoid an early breakdown.

For this reason, de Mistura saw past and future talks in the Kazak capital of Astana as an important factor complementing the political track in Geneva.

"De Mistura's mistake was that he did not join several opposition groups into one".

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