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5th Round of UN-led Syrian Talks Kicks off in Geneva | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and United Nations special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura enter a hall during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Moscow, London – The fifth round of UN-led intra-Syrian talks will kick off in Geneva on Thursday, with little hope of substantial breakthrough, as both pro-regime and opposition delegations have shown no flexibility in their stances.

The previous round of talks ended on March 3, with the UN announcing an agreement over the adoption of a four-point agenda, which should be discussed in parallel, including the formation of a transitional governing body, drafting a new constitution, holding elections and fighting terrorism.

Representatives from the Moscow platform – including opposition factions close to Russia – and the Cairo platform, mainly former foreign ministry spokesperson Jihad Maqdessi, will join this fresh session of indirect negotiations.

Western sources close to the matter were quoted by AFP saying there were no plans for the government and opposition delegations to meet face-to-face.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura is scheduled to be in Ankara on Thursday as part of his diplomatic tour, which also included Moscow and Riyadh.

The UN’s deputy envoy, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy will meet the rival camps in Geneva “to prepare the round ahead”, the UN said.

On Wednesday, de Mistura met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

De Mistura noted the need for political progress in the war-torn country, saying he arrived in Moscow to assess the situation, according to the ministry’s statement.

The UN envoy is later scheduled to travel to Turkish capital Ankara, before departing for Geneva.

For his part, Lavrov said Russia “valued” the meeting with de Mistura.

“We believe that we should help you consolidate the agreements on four baskets of issues: the transitional government, the constitution, the elections and the fight against terrorism,” Lavrov told the UN envoy.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkish foreign ministry officials would meet with de Mistura in Ankara.

“We will receive him,” Cavusoglu stated in Washington on Wednesday. “Undersecretary is going to meet him. They are in touch with de Mistura. If I am in Ankara, I will also see him. It is important that we meet him before the next round of Geneva talks and also next round of Astana talks,” he added.