UN extends new Syria peace talks invitation to Damascus | News | DW | 31.07.2016
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UN extends new Syria peace talks invitation to Damascus

The Syrian government has confirmed its participation in the latest talks aimed at a political solution to the conflict. A UN official said he spoke with Damascus about the need for a UN-backed transition.

Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, UN deputy special envoy for Syria, on Sunday announced that an invitation to new UN-brokered peace talks had been extended to the Syrian government following talks with the country's foreign minister.

"I informed the minister and his deputy of the intention of the special envoy (Staffan) de Mistura to reconvene the inter-Syrian talks towards the end of August," Ramzy said.

"I explained to the minister how we intend to proceed, and we discussed how to render this process of political transition, which has already been endorsed by the (UN) Security Council to be a credible one, and we exchanged views on that," he added.

The UN diplomat said the Syrian government will "participate in these talks once they are held."

The announcement comes days after de Mistura, the UN's chief mediator for the peace talks, said he aimed to convene a new round towards the end of August.

De Mistura called on the US and Russia to back the UN's latest steps after both countries successfully brokered a nationwide ceasefire earlier this year.

Previous rounds of peace talks failed with the last one in April ending abruptly after the Saudi-backed mainstream coalition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) withdrew its participation, citing a worsening humanitarian disaster on the ground.

'Ready to resume'

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallam said Damascus was "ready to resume the talks with no preconditions in an inter-Syrian context with no foreign interference," according to Syria's state-owned SANA news agency.

The UN has pushed for a political solution to the five-year conflict. However, Damascus has refused to discuss President Bashar al-Assad's departure, while the HNC has said it will not agree to a deal in which the president remains in power.

More than 280,000 people have been killed and half the population displaced since 2011, when government forces launched a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters calling for Assad to step down.

ls/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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