A deal to set up a ceasefire zone in Syria along with other political developments could help boost a new round of talks aimed at ending more than six years of conflict in the country, United Nations Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said today.
The UN negotiator was speaking to journalists in Geneva after Russia, the United States and Jordan gave their support to a so-called de-escalation area in the south-west of the war-ravaged country.
This development along with arrangements to support a ceasefire and delivery of humanitarian access – which was welcomed welcomed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres – comes amid ongoing fighting elsewhere in Syria.
At the start of the seventh round of intra-Syrian talks, Mr. de Mistura said that “several stars” were aligning in favour of potential progress towards an end to the crisis. In particular, he welcomed the new de-escalation zone in the south-west of the war-torn country, near the Jordan, Lebanon and Israeli borders.
It covers an area that had become a potential “flashpoint,” Mr. de Mistura said.
The deal was announced at the weekend following a meeting of the G20 leaders in the German city of Hamburg by the US, Russia and Jordan.
“De-escalation is what people the Syrian people have been asking, begging everyone, for a long time, hence our own support for the Astana process which is mutually reinforcing the Geneva one, and what has been the three areas which are being identified as de-escalation areas and of course our support to the south-west agreement announced in Hamburg,” he said.
On the first day of the UN-facilitated talks in Geneva, Mr. de Mistura met the Government of Syria delegation and held a working lunch with all three opposition delegation leaders.
The meetings coincided with a statement by the UN spokesman which said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the establishment of the de-escalation zone, calling it a “significant step towards reducing violence and increasing humanitarian access across Syria.”
The UN chief added that it was in line with the pursuit of the goal of a comprehensive, nationwide ceasefire that had been endorsed by multiple Security Council resolutions.