UN Lukewarm to Russia-Sponsored Syria Talks in Sochi

Envoy of the Secretary General for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks

Envoy of the Secretary General for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks

The Syrian opposition will not attend a peace conference Russian Federation is hosting in Sochi next week, a spokesman said on Saturday, dismissing the meeting as an attempt by the Syrian government's close ally to "sideline" the current United Nations peace process. "And the United Nations didn't see this commitment", said Yahya Al-Aridi, a spokesman for the opposition delegation at the Vienna talks.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, speaking to reporters early Saturday, admitted there had been a disheartening lack of progress up until now in finding a solution for the Syrian war.

But the Syrian government delegation objected to the opposition's tough line on the future of Assad, and the talks achieved nothing. The special envoy said that the peace talks is at "very very critical moment" since the Syrian government continues to recapture large territories in fighting against terrorists and the opposition.

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It leaked on Friday as the latest round of UN-led talks was underway in Vienna, and its authenticity was confirmed to Reuters by three diplomatic sources.

On Tuesday evening the British, French, Jordanian, Saudi and U.S., foreign ministers met in Paris to see how to give extra support to De Mistura and consult on how to handle Russia's planned gathering in Sochi.

The two days of negotiations in Vienna come after eight previous rounds in Geneva, the last one in December, that failed to get the different parties even to talk to each other. Turkey has poured troops into the north to fight Kurdish militias that have established regional autonomy and are seen by Ankara as a menace to its security.

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The announcement came after the USA said it will work, along with a coalition of its allies purportedly fighting the Daesh terrorist group, with US-backed militants of the the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to set up a new 30,000-strong "border security" force.

Haid Haid, a consulting research fellow at Chatham House think-tank, said Russia's long-term strategic interests were at play in Sochi.

"I hope that the forthcoming Syrian national dialogue congress in Sochi will contribute to a revived and credible intra-Syrian process under the United Nations in Geneva", he added.

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