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Latest peace talks on Syria end without major breakthrough

Latest peace talks on Syria end without major breakthrough
United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference during the Intra Syria talks at the U.N. offices in Geneva, Switzerland, May 19, 2017. REUTERS
GENEVA: The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced the conclusion of the latest round of UN-led peace talks on Syria on Friday night, adding that the next round will convene in early September.

He said that the seventh round of talks had seen incremental progress. There were no breakthroughs, no breakdowns and no one walked out.

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 participated in a telephone interview with members of the UN Security Council in New York about progress during the seventh round of talks which started on July 10 in trying to untangle and bring to an end the protracted conflict in Syria.

Bashar al-Ja'afari, the lead negotiator for the Syrian 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," adding that this week he 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 response to questions about a contact group set up by France, de Mistura said he had been "quite intensively" in contact with French President Emmanuel Macron recently on how France could contribute to work with the United Nations in regards to Syria.

France has proposed a series of meetings with Russia and the United States, including President Donald Trump. De Mistura 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.