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HNC Lead Negotiator Warns US Absence was Threatening Ongoing Syria Peace Efforts | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syria’s opposition delegation leader Nasr al-Hariri (C) arrives for a meeting of Intra-Syria peace talks with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura at Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Xu Jinquan/Pool

Lead negotiator for the main Syria opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Mohamad Sabra, said in an interview late Monday that the United Nations sponsored talks in Geneva remained “stalled”.

A political deal to end the Syrian conflict is not possible without a strong US role, the opposition’s chief negotiator told AFP, warning that Washington’s absence was threatening ongoing peace talks.

“There can be no real and viable political solution without the presence of the Americans,” he said.
The United States has a “moral duty” to throw its weight behind efforts to end the six-year conflict, he added.

Years of diplomatic initiatives have failed to end the war, which has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced millions since it started in March 2011 with protests against the authoritative regime headed by long-time despot Bashar al-Assad.

Washington has long been the biggest backer of the Syrian opposition, but it appears to be putting far less diplomatic muscle towards the rebel cause since President Donald Trump came to power in January.
Two UN-backed taskforces co-chaired by the United States and Russia and aimed at securing ceasefires and access for humanitarian aid in Syria seem to be having less impact.

At the same time, regime supporters Russia and Iran along with rebel-backer Turkey have been pushing separate negotiations in Astana since January after gains on the ground by Damascus turned the tables in the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was on Tuesday set to host his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for talks that are being closely watched for signs of their next moves in Syria.

Closer cooperation between the two Syrian regime supporters will likely go even further in marginalizing US influence in the peace process.