UN envoy plans to convene fresh Syria peace talks on July 10

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UNITED NATIONS, June 18 (APP): UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de
Mistura has announced that he planes to convene a new round of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva on July 10.
In a written statement released on Saturday, he said that the target
date for the arrival of invitees was July 9, with the talks beginning on July 10.
He said that he intended to convene further rounds of talks in August
and in September,and as in previous rounds, invitations would be sent in keeping with UN Security Council resolution 2254.
“In addition to the formal sessions of the intra-Syrian talks, the
expert meetings of the consultative process on constitutional and legal issues established during the last round will continue,” the statement added.
The last round of UN-sponsored peace talks finished on May 19, with de Mistura telling the UN Security Council that “important gaps remain between the parties on major issues,” not least of which is the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.
The opposition insists Assad must leave power as part of any peace deal but the government has rejected the demand.
The talks are aimed at ending a war that has killed more than 320,000
people since 2011 and laid waste to much of the country’s infrastructure.
Following the last round De Mistura said time constraints had stymied progress on key topics, including a mooted new constitution and the organisation of elections.
At the last talks, De Mistura said the Geneva participants were not seeking to draft a new constitution, but rather “laying foundations for the time when the Syrians can do that.”
Parallel negotiations have been held in the Kazakh capital Astana, where Turkey and Assad allies Russia and Iran agreed in May to establish four safe zones across Syria to ban flights and ensure aid drops.
But the plan has stalled amid disagreement over details such as which countries should send in forces to police the zones.
A new round of Astana talks had been scheduled for the coming days but has been postponed indefinitely.