A seventh round of United Nations-sponsored Syrian peace talks began in Geneva on Monday; however, expectations for any real breakthrough remain quite low.The peace talks came after a fresh ceasefire in the southwest of the war-torn country.The truce was brokered by the U.S., Russian and Jordanian diplomats last week and announced at the Hamburg G20 summit last Friday.
The UN believes it as a step in the right direction.But the UN Special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura played down the chances of further significant progress in the coming days."We are not expecting therefore, breakthrough because we are part of all this. And we want to be supporting all this. But some incremental development, yes, as we have seen for Astana. And we are doing a lot of homework and we plan to do it during these days," said de Mistura.The talks will again focus on four key areas -- credible non-sectarian transitional government, future constitution, free elections within 18 months as well as a united war against terrorism.But the main Syrian opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), says the talks are unlikely to make much progress in those areas."Too many things are happening, and too many hands are getting into the skies of Syria and the ground of Syria, actually. And saga has been on for about some years now. We hope that the regime would at a certain point get serious and get involved in the peace talks," said Yahya Al-Aridi, a member of the HNC.The Syrian government delegation and the opposition groups are not expected to hold face-to-face talks during the week.
US, Russia, Jordan reach ceasefire deal for southwest Syria (credit: REUTERS)