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New round of Syrian talks set for April 13: UN special envoy

The United Nations special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Thursday said the second phase of Syrian peace talks seeking to broker a political end to the five-year conflict is scheduled to start on April 13.

"I do know that there are elections being planned in Syria on April 13 but you do know also that we have decided that we go beyond that, we will have the talks in spite of that," he said.

The mediator indicated that delegations are expected to arrive on April 11 and 12, and that the government delegation is likely to arrive on April 14 or 15.

As outlined in the first round of proximity talks last month which yielded 12 points of commonality between warring factions, De Mistura said that this round must delve into the issue of political transition.

"The next round of talks need to be quite concrete in the direction of a political process leading to a real beginning of a political transition," he said.

To achieve this, the special envoy has to ensure that there is sufficient support from international stakeholders to push forward with negotiations involving the Syrian government delegation and the High Negotiations Committee, the umbrella group for Syrian opposition factions.

"I've decided that I verify this by going on the spot to some locations, as I did to Moscow, and I'm planning to go to Damascus and Teheran," he explained.

The special envoy indicated that he will meet both the Syrian foreign minister and his deputy in Syria's capital and that he may travel to Beirut and Amman on the way.

The diplomat will also meet with Turkish authorities in Europe, and he is furthermore planning to convene with Saudi officials in a bid to get a better understanding of what the framework of a political transition could look like.

Talks next week will be the second of three rounds of negotiations seeking to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis which has killed over 250,000 people and forced 4.8 million people to flee the country.

[Source: Xinhua, Geneva, 08Apr16]

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