UN Syria envoy announces temporary pause to Geneva talks

UN Syria Envoy Steffan De Mistaura says peace talks in Geneva between Syrian regime representatives, opposition paused temporarily but will continue on February 25

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

UN mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura leaves after a news conference on the Syrian peace talks outside President Wilson hotel in Geneva

Updated Feb 4, 2016

UN-mediated talks to end the war in Syria are on pause until Feb. 25, UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Wednesday, Mistura added that the talks had not failed but needed immediate help from international backers led by the United States and Russia.

"I have concluded frankly that after the first week of preparatory talks there is more work to be done, not only by us but by the stakeholders," he told reporters after meeting the opposition delegation at their hotel.

"I have indicated from the first day that I won't talk for the sake of talking," he said.

He was speaking after meeting opposition coordinator Riad Hijab, who had just arrived in Geneva.

De Mistura had overseen several days of stuttering progress and postponed meetings, without ever getting the two sides in a dialogue.

Regional powers, along with the United States, Russia, Iran and others, comprise the "International Syria Support Group" (ISSG), which has thrown its weight behind De Mistura's initiative, without always agreeing on how he should go about it.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other top ISSG diplomats are expected to meet at the annual Munich Security Conference on Feb. 11.

"I will be asking for the ISSG to convene as soon as possible, hopefully in Munich, and for the UN Security Council to meet and reconvene on Feb. 25," De Mistura said.

De Mistura said he planned to go to London for a Syria humanitarian pledging conference on Thursday, since the plight of Syria's 5 million refugees would be an additional incentive to reconvene the talks.

"I have been long enough at the UN to know that when you have a five-year war that has had so many difficult moments you have to be determined but also realistic."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said he saw an opportunity for negotiations at the Munich conference.

The UN estimates the death toll in Syria, since the war began in 2011, to be at least 260,000.

About 4 million others took refuge in neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, with Turkey hosting the largest group with over 2 million.

Thousands are still pushing towards EU countries which caused a global refugee crisis requiring an immediate solution for the war in Syria.

TRTWorld, Reuters