UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura says the fight against terrorism is "being discussed at the highest possible level." Other matters on the agenda include a new constitution, reformed governance and fresh elections.
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura put the emphasis on the international fight against terrorism on Friday as he wrapped up a round of Syria peace talks at which there was "no breakthrough, no breakdown and no one walking out."
Speaking at a news conference after briefing the UN Security Council by video, de Mistura said he felt the UN was expected to say where it stood on the fight against terrorism, which he said was "becoming the main issue being discussed at the highest possible level elsewhere."
Discussion of terrorism has been a constant demand of the Syrian regime since the series of talks began early last year, and it was added to the formal agenda earlier this year, along with talks about a new constitution, reformed governance and fresh elections.
The main opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, wants a focus on political transition, meaning an end to the rule of regime leader Bashar al Assad.
De Mistura said Assad's negotiators had not given any indication that they were willing to discuss the transition.
"But what I do believe is that what are going to be the next steps of the international community in wanting to see an acceleration of the end of this conflict may help the government to be ready to address the political process," he said.
Laying out his understanding of the fight against terrorism, de Mistura said it only related to groups identified by the UN Security Council as terrorists, and it must be done in accordance with humanitarian law and human rights law.
Implementation of UN resolutions on arming and financing terrorists and the movement of foreign fighters had been very slow, he said, and he expected to see increased efforts against UN-listed groups and coordinated action wherever possible.
Such efforts were already being undertaken against Daesh in Raqqa and by the Syrian regime and its allies in areas around the cities of Aleppo, Homs and Hama, he said.
The best guarantee against terrorism was a political agreement achieved through a UN-led transitional process.
De Mistura has consistently stressed that international pressure by nations with influence on the ground is vital to negotiating an end to the six-year war that has claimed more than 320,000 lives.
On that front, he praised a new initiative by French President Emmanuel Macron to create a so-called "contact group," including permanent Security Council members and regional powers.
Macron outlined the proposal during his meeting on Thursday in Paris with US President Donald Trump, France's UN ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters in New York.
Delattre said the group would aim "to push for united views among the five Permanent Members of the Security Council and the regional players, which is needed."
De Mistura supported the effort, saying he had been in touch with Macron's team and was confident the contact group could help the UN peace push, even if its format had not yet been outlined.