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Optimism Surrounds ‘Geneva 7’ as Efforts Focus on Unifying Syrian Opposition | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura leaves a news conference during the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, Switzerland, May 19, 2017. (Reuters)

Beirut – The seventh round of Syrian indirect talks kicked off in Geneva on Monday, with statements reflecting optimism over the possibility to reach an agreement on unifying the opposition ranks, in addition to issues related to the constitution, elections and governance.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said in a news conference that negotiations were held in the Jordanian capital Amman to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire in southeastern Syria through US-Russian mediation.

He added that the ceasefire in the country’s southwest was generally holding despite some “teething problems”, expressing his belief that the agreement had “a very good opportunity for success”.

According to the UN, the seventh Geneva talks will focus on the same four topics, including Syria’s constitution, governance, elections and the fight against terrorism, which were discussed in previous rounds.

The first positive signs in the five-day talks were seen in the meeting held on Monday between the UN envoy and the head of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) Nasr al-Hariri, and representatives from the Moscow and Cairo platforms, HNC spokesperson Yehia al-Aridi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Qadri Jamil, from Moscow platform, and Jamal Suleiman, the head of the Cairo platform, both told Asharq Al-Awsat that strenuous efforts were exerted to unite the opposition in the next round of talks.

Jamil noted that this could be the last round of talks, in which the opposition is divided, adding that the eighth round could see a single opposition delegation.

Aridi said that latest developments in the Syrian crisis, especially the agreement over a ceasefire in the South, would contribute “in a way or another” in boosting the political process and putting an end to violence in the country.

Jamil, for his part, expressed his support for the formation of a unified opposition delegation, saying: “In light of latest developments and the US-Russian rapprochement, the opposition should be unified to pave the way for direct negotiations with the regime.”