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UN says outlook for Syria talks in Geneva still ‘cloudy’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura holds up a map of Syria during a news conference after the ISSG meeting in Munich, Feb. 12, 2016. ©AFP

A UN official has cast doubt on the outlook for Syria peace talks despite a push by the world body’s special envoy to revive the stalled negotiations between relevant parties.

Staffan de Mistura would like to get Syria’s warring sides back to the talks, but plans to resume the process remained “cloudy," Reuters quoted an unnamed UN spokesman as saying Friday.  

The comments came after members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) agreed on “cessation of hostilities” in Syria following a meeting in Munich on Thursday.

De Mistura announced a halt in the latest round of peace negotiations on February 3 after the Saudi-backed opposition group, known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), refused to attend the sessions in Geneva, Switzerland.

The so-called HNC refused to continue after the Syrian army, backed by Russian air cover, made significant gains against Takfiri militants on several fronts, particularly in the strategic northern province of Aleppo.

Mistura said earlier that he hoped a new round of discussions would begin by February 25.

Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations and head of the government delegation Bashar al-Ja’afari (C) arrives for Syrian peace talks in Geneva on February 2, 2016. ©AFP

Also on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the Saudi-backed opposition to abandon its “unconstructive” stance and return to the negotiation table without preconditions.

ISSG members agreed in Munich to implement a ceasefire in Syria in a week to end hostilities in the Arab country. A ceasefire task force was set up as part of the Munich meeting co-chaired by Russia and the US to help the UN and humanitarian agencies deliver humanitarian aid.

Khawla Mattar, a spokeswoman for De Mistura, said representatives of 17 countries will attend UN talks in Geneva later on Friday to discuss ways of overseeing the delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria, especially to the besieged areas.

Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, will host the Geneva meeting.

He said the Munich agreement “could be the breakthrough we have been waiting for to get full access to desperate civilians inside Syria. But it requires that all those with influence on all sides of the conflict are putting pressure the parties.”

Russian planes air dropped humanitarian aid on areas in Syria’s eastern Dayr al-Zawr city that are besieged by Daesh Takfiri militants, the so-called Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.

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