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De Mistura: Direct Syrian Talks in Upcoming Rounds | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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UN mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura reacts after a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland October 6, 2016.

Geneva – UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday that representatives from the Syrian regime and the opposition could soon hold unprecedented face-to-face talks.

The envoy, however, ruled out the possibility of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC) uniting with the Moscow- and Cairo-based opposition platforms for direct talks with the Syrian government, during the ongoing round of the Geneva talks, which ends on Saturday.

On whether a direct meeting between government and opposition negotiators could take place before the 8th round of the Geneva talks scheduled for late August, the UN mediator said: “Perhaps even earlier.”

“I’m not pushing for it. Because I want, when it happens, that there should not be a row but should be real talks. We are actually pushing for areas where they do have common points,” de Mistura added.

The 7th round of intra-Syrian talks kicked off on Monday in Geneva, during which the UN envoy held separate meetings with the HNC group, the Cairo and Moscow platforms, as well as the group representing the Syrian regime.

De Mistura’s remarks came ahead of a meeting with Bashar al-Jaafari, the Syrian government’s chief negotiator, who held two official meetings with the international envoy in Geneva this week.

The Moscow and Cairo platforms each include a number of activists and were named after the cities where they first convened. They do not control territory on the ground or have strong links with armed groups engaged in the war, according to Reuters.

The three opposition groups have recently held technical talks, aligning their stances on the Constitution and the elections, but failing so far to agree on the transition of power. They might be able to field a single delegation, if not a united one, Reuters said.

“We’re coming together on substance, not just principles but operationally,” HNC negotiator Basma Kodmani told Reuters. “We’re building an alternative to Assad,” he added.