07/10/2017, 10.45
SYRIA - UN
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Geneva, New round of UN talks on Syria. The US-Russian brokered truce holds in the southwest

The seventh round of UN-mediated meetings opens today in the Swiss city. Pessimism prevails among delegations. Opposition Leader: "modest expectations". Washington and Moscow mediate a ceasefire in three southwestern provinces, allowing aid delivery.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The seventh round of UN-mediated peace talks on Syria, between the government of Damascus and the opposition, opens today in Geneva, Switzerland. Diplomatic efforts promoted by international diplomacy continue while on the ground the cease the fire announced at the G20 summit in Hamburg (Germany) at the weekend between President Donald Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin seems to hold.

Ramzi Ezzedine Ramzi, assistant to the UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, points out that the ceasefire has provided a "positive momentum" on the eve of the meeting and the benefits will be seen "from today" in Switzerland.

There are four key points in the Geneva negotiations, which see the United Nations working in parallel to the Astana talks sponsored by Russia, Iran and Turkey. First, the drafting of a new constitution; Governance, understood as a political transition; Regular elections; The fight against terrorism.

However, the differences between the forces on the ground and the powers - regional and international - that support them are still evident. This is why a feeling of caution, if not of outright mistrust prevails. Interviewed on the outcome of this new round of meetings Yehia al-Aridi, spokesperson for the HNC, the umbrella group bringing together anti-Assad movements, speaks of "modest expectations".

The Syrian conflict, sparked in March 2011 as a protest movement against President Bashar al-Assad, has caused more than 320,000 casualties and at least 11 million refugees, internally displaced and migrants. In recent months, international diplomacy has achieved some (partial) successes, including the national truce that has been in place since last December and the creation of "de-escalation" areas of the conflict.

The last of these is the agreement between Washington and Moscow for a truce in the fighting in the southwest of the country, achieved in recent days. It covers three provinces: Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida. Government and opposition fighters have respected the ceasefire, with some sporadic and isolated exceptions. The agreement also includes the withdrawal of Iranian operational militias on the ground in support of Assad and Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas.

It has also provided free access for the distribution of humanitarian aid and first-aid supplies in the areas concerned. Added to this is the beginning of the process of gradual repatriation of refugees from neighboring Jordan.

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