GENEVA TALKS: REBELS POSITIVE AFTER MEETING DE MISTURA 


The opposition expects Syria’s political transition will be discussed in the coming days 
Opposition official praises Staffan de Mistura’s ‘positive ideas’ at first meeting of latest Geneva peace talks.

Geneva, Switzerland – The Syrian opposition’s first meeting with Staffan de Mistura in the latest round of peace talks was “generally positive”, the rebels said, adding the UN envoy seemed more engaged in discussing political transition.

Inside Story- Can the latest round of Syria talks bring an end to the conflict?
“We heard positive ideas and suggestions from Mr De Mistura,” lead opposition negotiator Nasser al-Hariri told reporters on Friday.

“I believe he was more enthusiastic than before in discussing a political transition in Syria. So far there are no specific measures.”

Hariri said the opposition presented its “understanding” of points in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that discuss political transition in Syria, including governance, the formation of a new constitution and new UN-supervised elections.

De Mistura, the United Nations mediator for the talks on the war in Syria, formally began the fourth round of sessions in the Swiss city on Thursday.

The talks are part of the latest political initiative to bring an end to a six-year war that has killed nearly 500,000 people, wounded more than a million, and displaced nearly half the country.

Friday’s discussions with de Mistura only covered “procedural” aspects of the ongoing talks, said Hariri, adding that specific points about the shape and scope of any transition would be clarified in the coming days.

The opposition’s goal was to forge “a just political solution that ensures for the Syrian people its aspirations and dreams, for which it has paid a very high price,” he said.

Later, the opposition met behind closed doors with the United States Special Envoy for Syria, Michael Ratney, and several European diplomats.

De Mistura met with the representatives of the Syrian government earlier on Friday.

In a brief press conference after that meeting, lead government negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari told reporters that de Mistura had presented his delegation with a “document”. They would discuss its contents with the UN envoy during their next meeting, Jaafari said.

The latest talks almost fell apart before they began yesterday, after the opposition threatened to skip the opening ceremony over disagreements on the format of the session.

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