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Latest round of peace talks in Geneva constructive: Syria

Syrian Ambassador to the UN and head of the government delegation Bashar al-Ja’afari (C) attends a meeting with the UN Syria envoy during Syria peace talks at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland, April 26, 2016. ©AFP

Syria’s chief negotiator says the latest round of UN-brokered indirect peace talks in Geneva were constructive as important issues were raised during the discussions.

"I can describe this particular round as useful and productive," Bashar al-Ja'afari told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday after meeting Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations special envoy for Syria.

The remarks by Ja'afari, who also serves as the Syrian ambassador to the UN, came as the Geneva talks are due to end on Wednesday after two weeks.

The negotiations, aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria, began on April 13.

A few days later, however, the main foreign-backed opposition group, known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), walked out of the discussions to protest what it called the Damascus government’s violation of a cessation of hostilities.

The ceasefire, which went into effect on February 27 across Syria, initially reduced violence there, but fighting has picked up again especially in Aleppo Province, leaving the truce in tatters.

A civilian looks out a window of a damaged building at the site of a car bomb attack on the outskirts of the Sayeda Zeinab district, south of Damascus, Syria, April 25, 2016. ©Reuters

Elsewhere in his comments, Ja’afari said the Syrian government delegation “engaged with responsibility and objectivity in discussions of all issues that could serve our country and people.”

The government delegation also answered all the questions by the UN team, he added.

“We, for our part, raised again plenty of important points especially regarding terrorism,” the Syrian official stated.

De Mistura will brief the UN Security Council on Wednesday. He is expected to appeal to major powers to convene a ministerial meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), according to diplomats close to the talks.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Damascus says Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are the main supporters of the militants fighting the government forces.

According to de Mistura, some 400,000 people have lost their lives as a result of over five years of conflict in Syria.

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