UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian war resume in Geneva on Thursday, 10 months after the last round of negotiations in the Swiss city.
Just hours after rival delegations arrived, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura admitted there was limited ground for progress on making peace.
“Am I expecting a breakthrough? No, I am not expecting a breakthrough,” the veteran diplomat said, noting that “momentum” toward further talks was likely the best that can be hoped for.
The government delegation is headed by Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari and the main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) is led by Nasr al-Hariri and Mohammad Sabra.
On the eve of the talks an HNC spokesman said the umbrella group wanted face-to-face discussions with government representatives.”
“We ask for direct negotiations… It would save time and be proof of seriousness instead of negotiating in (separate) rooms,” Salem al-Meslet told AFP.
During three previous rounds of talks in Geneva last year, the two sides never sat down at the same table, instead leaving de Mistura to shuttle between them.
This time, de Mistura has voiced hope that he will manage to bring the two sides together for direct talks.
But when he was asked about the prospect during a press conference in Geneva Wednesday, the UN envoy was cautious, saying he wanted to talk with the two sides bilaterally first.