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De Mistura: Fighting Terrorism Requires Political Transition in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks to the media during a news conference after briefing the Security Council in Geneva. Reuters

New York-The United Nations envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has said it remains unclear when the next round of U.N.-brokered peace talks will take place, stressing the link between the eradication of terrorism and the political transition in Syria.

De Mistura told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that winning – not only fighting – terrorism would require a political transition.

“We learned that when you convene a conference or talks or intra-Syrian talks, you want to make sure that it has good chances of success. Having just a conference for the sake of a conference, we can do that any time but that’s not the purpose,” he said.

De Mistura suggested he has not given up on an August deadline for the Syrian parties to present the outlines of a political deal, though Security Council diplomats say it is a deadline that will almost certainly be missed.

“What we need is that the stakeholders do come with a feeling of urgency and work on some ideas on how to bridge the differences,” he said.

A “cessation of hostilities” that had brought peace to much of Syria for two months has largely broken down, and the war has resumed in many areas.

The negotiations on a political transition center on the future of President Bashar al-Assad, who is supported by Russia and Iran but who Western and Gulf Arab governments would like to see replaced.

The diplomat said that the terrorist attack in Istanbul “was a reminder to everyone in the Council that fighting terrorism is a priority and should be considered constantly a priority. We should not forget that aspect.

“However, winning – not only fighting – terrorism in Syria and Iraq too, but particularly in Syria, would require a political transition because that’s the way through which we take away the water from those who are swimming in the terrorist environment.”

De Mistura said some progress has been made in reaching Syria’s besieged cities.

French Ambassador to the U.N. François Delattre, who was the president of the Security Council for the month of June, told reporters that the U.N. envoy urged countries, which are influential in the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), to use their influence to urge the rival sides on implementing Security Council resolutions.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft also told reporters that the conditions were not there for a new round of U.N.-brokered talks between the Syrian regime and opposition.

“There continues to be such a breach of the cessation of hostilities, such a lack of humanitarian access, that it’s very hard to see how the conditions can be arrived at for political talks to resume,” he said. “That is such a tragedy, above all for the people of Syria.”