Syrian opposition calls peace talks agenda ‘positive’

Main Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee says agenda proposed by UN for peace talks is positive

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The main leader of the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee Salim al Muslat speaks in an interview.

The main Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said on Wednesday that the agenda proposed by the United Nations for peace talks over the Syrian conflict was positive.

Spokesman of the committee Salim al Muslat also noted there had been fewer regime violations of a cessation of hostilities agreement in the past day.

The committee will make its final decision on whether or not to attend the Geneva talks soon.

Speaking after UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said the talks would focus on new governance, a constitution and elections, Muslat said it was positive that the talks would "start ... with discussion of the matter of political transition."

"We heard what Mister de Mistura said. There are positive points, there are matters on the ground that we notice are moving in a positive way," he said.

He said aid was entering more areas of Syria, describing that development as "positive ... if not complete."

"The violations of the truce were great at the start, but yesterday they were much fewer. There are perhaps some positive matters that we are seeing," Muslat said, referring to the deal that took effect on February 27.

The main condition he gave for attending the talks is the lifting the Syrian regime's blockade of the Damascus suburb of Daraya.

No halt in deal, talks to run to March 24

De Mistura responded to doubts that some of the warring sides had indicated the cessation deal would expire in two weeks.

 "From the UN point of view and the Geneva meetings we have been having on the task force and certainly [the] Munich understanding, there was an open-ended concept regarding the cessation of hostilities," he said after a meeting on Syrian humanitarian issues in Geneva.

Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, displays a map of convoys in Syria during a news briefing after a meeting of the Task Force for Humanitarian Access at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, March 9, 2016.

The Munich meeting in February was a key point in Syrian peace process, when De Mistura asked its international backers - led by the United States and Russia - to do more to make the warring sides come to the table to negotiate.

De Mistura plans to launch substantive peace talks on Monday and said they will focus on the core issues of governance, elections within 18 months and a new constitution.

The round of talks would not run beyond March 24 and there would then be a break before resuming, he said, without giving details.

TRTWorld and agencies