United Nations UN envoy eyes new Syria peace talks in June

Despite little progress in the latest round of Syrian peace talks, negotiations are set to resume in June, the UN envoy said Monday.

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UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council that "important gaps remain between the parties on major issues" following the sixth round of peace talks in Geneva last week play

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council that "important gaps remain between the parties on major issues" following the sixth round of peace talks in Geneva last week

(AFP/File)
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Despite little progress in the latest round of Syrian peace talks, negotiations are set to resume in June, the UN envoy said Monday.

Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council that "important gaps remain between the parties on major issues" following the sixth round in Geneva held last week.

The Syrian government and the opposition took part in four days of indirect talks aimed at ending the war that has killed more than 320,000 people since 2011.

De Mistura said all sides were ready to return to the table for a new round of talks "which we intend to target sometime in June."

The envoy said the talks are to lay the groundwork for "a real negotiation" and expressed hope that this "will be possible before too long."

Hopes for a breakthrough were dim when the negotiations opened last week, with the fate of President Bashar al-Assad still a major stumbling block.

The opposition insists that Assad must leave power as part of any peace deal but the government has rejected the demand.

A series of expert-level talks will take place to pursue discussion on a range of issues including the thorny matter of a new constitution, but the UN envoy stressed that these would not be decision-making meetings.

"We are not seeking to draft a new Syrian constitution in Geneva," said De Mistura. "We are laying foundations for the time when the Syrians can do that."

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