Next round of Syrian peace talks to be held on March 9

UN announces next round of Syrian peace talks will begin on March 9 after being postponed for two days

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks during a meeting with the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) during the Intra-Syrian Talks in Geneva 2016 on Feb. 25, 2016.

United Nations Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura announced on Tuesday that the next round of peace talks concerning the conflict in Syria, which were previously scheduled on March 7, will begin on March 9 after two days of postponement.

"The 7th of March 2016 was initially set as the target date for the resumption of peace talks," but a short delay was needed "to allow adequate time to address logistical and practical matters," de Mistura said.

"We are delaying it to the afternoon of the 9th for logistical and technical reasons" and also for the cessation of hostilities "to better settle down," he continued.

"I will not delay it further."

An agreement for a cessation of hostilities came into effect on Saturday. Despite several reported violations, the deal seems to be holding "by and large," UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.

De Mistura also stated that it is up to the United States and Russia to share information and police the situation as the UN is not involved in that process.

This would require both sides to share common maps of the battlefield and monitor the situation with drones and satellites as it would not be possible to deploy thousands of observers on the ground. The United Nations only had general maps of the situation before the agreement, he said.

The special envoy said that he expected to see attempts to disrupt the ceasefire, and these needed to be contained to avoid them spreading and undermining the credibility of the cessation of hostilities.

He added that the UN wants the both sides to focus especially on constitutional reform, governance and elections to be held in 18 months in which more than five million Syrian refugees also must have chance to cast their ballots.

Prisoner releases would also be "very much up front on the agenda," he said.

The conflict in Syria started in 2011 after peaceful anti-government protests. Since then, at least 470,000 people have been killed, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research, and more than half of the Syrian population are displaced either internally or outside of the country.

TRTWorld and agencies