UN envoy for Syria confirms he postponed Syria talks until February 20

Earlier, February 8 was given as the date for the restart of the intra-Syrian talks.

UNITED NATIONS, January 31./TASS/. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has confirmed that he made the decision to postpone the date for restart of the talks in Geneva between Damascus and the opposition until February 20.

“I did ask… the Security Council and based also on the discussions I had with the SG (Antonio Guterres) to postpone the talks until the 20th,” he said. He also said the invitations to the meeting will be sent on February 8.

Earlier, February 8 was given as the date for the restart of the intra-Syrian talks. De Mistura said he had postponed the Geneva meeting as the United Nations wants to give time to implement the agreement reached at the Astana meeting on the establishment of ceasefire monitoring mechanism.

The envoy said Tuesday the United Nations will help Russia, Iran and Turkey create a trilateral mechanism to prevent ceasefire violations in Syria, as agreed  during the intra-Syrian talks in Astana on January 23-24, and confirmed the UN participation in expert consultations in Astana on February 6.

He said “there was a welcome to the intention on the 6th of February to have a follow-up technical meeting in Astana on the establishment of this mechanism and the UN will be present, because frankly we have 70 years of experience in ceasefires, truces and similar difficulties.”·

The envoy stated that the ceasefire in Syria holds on the whole, expressing confidence that this ceasefire has more chances than those declared in the country before.

He said he hopes this extra time will make it possible for the government to get better prepared for serious negotiations and the opposition will be able to form a unified delegation. However he warned that should the opposition fails to do that by February 8, he would decide himself who would represent the opposition at the reconciliation talks in Geneva.

“This time if by 8th of February the opposition will not be ready to come up with a unified group I will have to… apply what I have not yet applied which is a prerogative that (the UN Security Council Resolution) 2254 gave to the special envoy to actually select the delegation in order to make sure that it can be as inclusive as possible,” the UN envoy said.

The latest round of Geneva talks was held from April 13 through 27, 2016 and ended to no avail. De Mistura planned to resume discussions last May but the date of the meeting has been postponed many times since then.