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Latest peace talks on Syria end without major breakthrough
The UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Friday night announced the conclusion of the latest round of the UN-led peace talks on Syria, saying that the next round will convene in early September.
"We have just concluded the seventh round of talks. We have made incremental progress, no breakthrough, no breakdowns, no one walked out," the UN envoy told reporters during a press conference Friday night.
He added that he felt those he had engaged with this week had "complete support for what we are trying to achieve here."
De Mistura announced that a new round of talks will begin at the beginning of September.
Before speaking to the media, the UN envoy had engaged in a telephone interview with members of the UN Security Council in New York about progress in the seventh round of talks started on July 10 in trying to untangle and bring to an end the protracted conflict in Syria.
Bashar al-Ja'afari, the leading negotiator for the Damascus government, said earlier in the day after meeting with de Mistura that he had not been asked to meet directly with members of the opposition who also had talks with the UN envoy this week.
De Mistura said this week's talks had been "preparatory work" aimed at getting people "closer to each other" and this week he had sought to "assist the opposition to start working closely together."
He hoped to push them all to "sit in the same room," the UN special envoy said.
In answer to questions about a contact group set up by France, de Mistura said he had been "quite intensively" in contact with a team of French President Emmanuel Macron recently on how France could contribute to work with the United Nations in regard to Syria.
France had come up with a series of meetings with Russia and the United States including President Donald Trump and he welcomed such a move if it facilitated the Syrian peace process, indicating that France may start to play a bigger role in the peace process.
De Mistura cited President Macron as saying that "we want to put in a contact group and I feel very comfortable with that. The only way to have fruitful negotiations is through the UN process."
[Source: Xinhua, Geneva, 14Jul17]
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