Syria peace talks have ended with a clear agenda to pursue a political solution to the six-year-long conflict.
In the first UN-led talks in almost a year it was a tepid breakthrough. However, the UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said that although there was no clear conclusion in Geneva, he was more positive than during previous rounds.
“I had a feeling that the sides want to find a dialogue. That’s what matters. So, as I told you at the beginning, don’t be surprised, don’t over-estimate, don’t over-react if there are statements which will say ‘never’, this is part of the rhetoric, it’s part of posturing, it’s part of politics. I know what I heard and what I saw and that gives me some feeling that we are moving in the right direction,” he said, telling reporters “we are moving in the right direction.”
Counter-terrorism had been added as a ‘fourth basket’ to the next round of talks expected later this month, as well as establishing a ‘credible, inclusive government’, drafting a new constitution and holding free and fair elections.
This meant the warring parties could hail small victories. For the opposition, they said the question of political transition was seriously addressed for the first time. They consider a ‘transition’ to mean an end to nearly 50 years of Assad family rule, something which the government has ruled out.
The Syrian government has been pushing to add terrorism to the programme, as it regards all rebels as terrorists. De Mistura said the UN recognised ISIL and the former Nusra front as terrorist groups.