Syrian opposition says wants 'serious partner' in talks

The delegations of the Syrian government and the opposition represented by a number of groups (Riyadh, Moscow, Cairo and Astana) will make another attempt to agree on the future of the country, which has been hit by the bloody conflict for six years already.

Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Syria, speaks on the last day of the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Sunday Feb.19, 2017.

"I am not expecting a breakthrough", but wants to maintain "a very proactive momentum", he said.

Ahead of the Geneva talks expected to start today, the Syrian opposition made it clear Tuesday that the negotiations should be focused on a political transition.

"On the eve of the talks an HNC spokesman said the umbrella group wanted face-to-face discussions with government representatives". "It would save time and be proof of seriousness instead of negotiating in (separate) rooms", Salem al-Meslet told AFP.

De Mistura gave no further details on the negotiations.

This time, de Mistura has voiced hope that he will manage to bring the two sides together for direct talks.

But when he was asked about the prospect during a press conference in Geneva Wednesday, the United Nations envoy was cautious in his response, saying he wanted to talk with the two sides bilaterally first. However, most diplomats say that the rebels have...

He said "Iran is an occupying state in Syria" and "could not be a guarantor state".

The ceasefire was orchestrated by Turkey, one of the main backers of the rebels, and Russia, Syria's ally.

A bitter dispute over Assad's fate also continues to divide the camps.

"The opposition should understand that there are new realities on the ground in Syria and worldwide changes - it's not like it was in 2011", said pro-Assad Syrian parliamentarian Sharif Shehadeh.

The resolution called for "formal negotiations on [the] political transition" in Syria - a long-standing framework for peace backed by the UN.

The opposition has also seen its biggest supporters - the United States and Turkey - show signs of shifting their positions, prompting concern in rebel ranks that their demands for Assad's departure may go unheard.

  • Leroy Wright