UN says aiming to restart Syria peace talks on April 9

The UN's Syria envoy said Thursday he is aiming to restart peace talks on April 9, disregarding a regime request that negotiations not resume until after parliamentary elections set for April 13.

AFP| Updated: Mar 25, 2016, 02:11 AM IST

Geneva: The UN's Syria envoy said Thursday he is aiming to restart peace talks on April 9, disregarding a regime request that negotiations not resume until after parliamentary elections set for April 13.

"The target date starts on April 9," United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura told journalists, as he summed up a round of talks before a scheduled break.

Asked about the Damascus request to wait until after the elections, de Mistura said: "The only elections that I feel authorised to comment on... Are those elections that will be supervised by the UN," meaning a vote held after a peace deal is agreed.

Before leaving Geneva, the Syrian government's lead negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari said he told de Mistura that his side would not be available for further talks until parliamentary polls had taken place.

But de Mistura made clear that the UN would not take into consideration any polls organised by President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution in December which paved the way for the Geneva talks and called for elections in Syria to be held 18 months after a transitional government is agreed.

"Any other elections, I am not commenting about," de Mistura said.

He noted that logistical problems could force the official start of the next round to be pushed back to April 10, and that some delegates may not arrive in Geneva until the middle of the month.

"One of the great things about proximity talks is that they are dramatically flexible," de Mistura told reporters, highlighting that with indirect negotiations, participants can arrive at different times.

The just concluded round began on March 14.

The main opposition HNC said the negotiations over the last two weeks had "laid the basis" for substantive talks next month.