Opposition: Resumption of Syria talks in Geneva in March Depends on Astana

Resumption of inter-Syrian negotiations in the second half of March depends on the results of the meeting in Astana, which is scheduled for March 14-15, Naser al-Hariri, head of the delegation of the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said.

“We heard from Mr. Staffan de Mistura, that the next stage will start in two weeks, but it depends on the meeting in Astana scheduled, as far as I know, on March14-15,” he said.

“As earlier, we are always ready to be engaged in dialogue with a positive attitude, because we want a settlement, we want peace in Syria,” the head of the negotiating team of the NHC said.

“We are committed to this process in accordance with international initiatives,” al-Hariri stressed.

Naser al-Hariri also said that the Syrian opposition, represented by HNC counts on continuation of contacts with Russia on settlement of the Syrian conflict.

“Another area where I can mark progress is our meeting with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov. We explained our vision of how to achieve a political settlement to him, and we felt his support,” al-Hariri said.

“I think that if the parties have a desire for advancement of the political process, and we have it, meetings should be held for such a settlement. We did not agree about our next meeting but we agreed that Russia will support the political process on the basis of international initiatives,” he said.

“We look forward to constant positive relations, but it depends on Russia, which could play a very important role, in particular, it should have more influence on observation of cease-fire and humanitarian issues,” al-Hariri said.

According to al-Hariri, such actions of Russia could play an important role for the positive outcome of the negotiations.

“If from now on it goes on in such a positive way, I do not think that this round will be different from previous ones. Russia’s role is important, but everything is in its hands, only Russia can make decisions,” he said.

The recent round of negotiations in Geneva has led to certain progress, first of all it concerns reaching an understanding with the United Nations.

“It is obvious that when we were on our way here we did not hope that we would settle everything in a week. It is a long process, but certain progress has been made already,” he said.

“The progress has been made in our interaction with the UN, which concerns understanding of the resolution of UN Security Council 2254, launching political discussions that could lead to restoration of security and stability in Syria and the new reality, where we could unite all forces to fight against terrorism in order to rebuild our country,” al-Hariri said.

Al-Hariri said that it is the first time when they managed to start such a positive dialogue at the Geneva talks. “Earlier we left without any result. Now the discussions are going in a positive way,” he said.

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