Syrian government delegation to return to Geneva on Sunday for peace talks

Elias Hubbard
December 7, 2017

The United States and France called on Russian Federation on Wednesday to deliver the delegation of President Bashar al-Assad to Syria peace talks in Geneva after discussions on ending the six-year war resumed with no sign of the government attending.

De Mistura said on Thursday that Ja'afari's delegation had confirmed it would return on Sunday, five days later than expected. He had planned to continue the round until December 15th. The second basket, which includes post-war elections, is supposed to be discussed at a ninth round of talks.

The government delegation blamed its departure on the opposition's uncompromising stance on Assad's future. "This is in the context of the constitution and electoral processes". "If they are quite serious about bringing peace to Syria, well they should show up".

On Tuesday, the opposition called on the United Nations and allies of Mr Al Assad to halt a bombing campaign that has escalated in recent weeks against Eastern Ghouta, a besieged rebel-held suburb of eastern Damascus.

"We have said to the Russians it is important that the Syrian regime be at the table and be part of these negotiations and part of the discussion", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a news conference in Brussels. "On the contrary, they are willing to undermine any track that might lead to a political solution", Mr Aridi said.

The unified Syrian opposition delegation in Geneva on Wednesday urged the regime to participate in ongoing peace talks. The report quoted a Foreign Ministry source.

If either side were seen to be sabotaging the process it could have "a very bad impact on any other political attempt to have processes elsewhere", he said.

The delegation returned to Damascus to "consult and refresh", but chief negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari initially threatened not to come back, which the opposition said would be "an embarrassment to Russia".

Syria's opposition has insisted that Mr Al Assad must step down, but his negotiators have refused to discuss the issue and the regime's recent successes on the battlefield have strengthened his hand.

During last week's sessions, de Mistura shuttled between the representatives of the two sides, who did not meet face-to-face. The regime delegates conferred with de Mistura a day later.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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