Syrian government returns to Geneva talks, Western envoys skeptical

By REUTERS
December 10, 2017 13:21
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GENEVA - The Syrian government's delegation returned to Geneva on Sunday for the resumption of talks with United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura after more than a week's absence, but Western diplomats voiced skepticism about its willingness to engage.

Bashar al-Ja'afari, Syria's ambassador to the UN and chief negotiator in talks aimed at finding a political solution to end the nearly seven-year-old war, landed in a snowstorm on a flight from Beirut, a Reuters reporter on board said. Ja'afari declined to comment.

De Mistura convened an eighth round of separate talks with the government and unified opposition delegations on Nov. 28, focusing on constitutional reform as well as elections.

But Ja'afari arrived a day late and left after two days, saying the opposition had "mined the road" to the talks by insisting that President Bashar al-Assad could not play any interim role in Syria's political transition.

De Mistura told reporters last Thursday that he would assess this week whether either side is trying to "sabotage" the process.

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