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UN deputy special envoy formally invites Syria to new peace talks

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)
A handout picture released by Syria's official news agency, SANA, on July 31, 2016, shows Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad (C-R) meeting with Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy (C-L), the UN deputy special envoy for Syria, in the Syrian capital Damascus. (AFP)

The UN deputy special envoy for Syria formally invited the Damascus government Sunday to take part in new peace talks with the foreign-backed opposition groups expected to be held at the end of August.

Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy said after a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and his deputy Faisal Mekdad in Damascus that he had received a positive response from the Syrian government.

"I informed the minister and his deputy of the intention of the special envoy, De Mistura, to reconvene the inter-Syrian talks towards the end of August," Ramzy said, adding, "I explained to the minister how we intend to proceed, and we discussed how to render this process of political transition which has already been endorsed by the Security Council to be a credible one, and we exchanged views on that."

Ramzy said the Syrian foreign minister has "confirmed the intention of the Syrian government to participate in these talks once they are held."

Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy (2nd-R), the UN deputy special envoy for Syria, attends a meeting with Syrian ambassador to the United Nations and head of the government delegation, Bashar al-Ja'afari (3rd-L), in Geneva, Switzerland, April 20, 2016. (AFP)

Syria's official news agency, SANA, quoted Mekdad as saying that the Syrian government is "ready to resume the talks with no preconditions in an inter-Syrian context with no foreign interference."

On July 26, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura told reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva that he wanted "to proceed with a third round of intra-Syrian talks towards the end of August."

De Mistura has struggled to keep the peace process alive between the administration of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition groups.

Two previous rounds of such talks this year have ended inconclusively. The last round of the UN-sponsored negotiations fell apart in February after the Saudi-backed so-called opposition, known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), left the talks amid the Syrian army’s Russia-backed gains against militants on several fronts.

Damascus wants the negotiations to result in the establishment of a "unity government" followed by the appointment of a committee to either write a new constitution or make changes to the current one.

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