Syria’s first U.N.-led peace talks in almost a year ended on Friday without breakthrough but the United Nations mediator said the warring parties now had a clear agenda to pursue a political solution to the country’s six-year-long conflict.
Both sides could point to small victories. The opposition said that the question of political transition was seriously addressed for the first time, while U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura said counter-terrorism – an issue pushed by President Bashar al-Assad’s delegation – had been added to the agenda.
“What I saw … gives me some feeling that we are moving in the right direction,” de Mistura told reporters at the end of eight days of talks, adding that he aimed to hold another round of indirect negotiations later this month.
He said counter-terrorism had been added as a “fourth basket” to the talks, alongside efforts to establish a “credible, inclusive government”, drafting a new constitution and holding free and fair elections.
In theory, those issues are supposed to be addressed in a six-month time frame, but peace talks in Geneva have achieved little since they were first convened just over three years ago.
“I believe…and expect that the sides should now pursue a framework agreement containing an agreed political package so that a negotiated transitional political process can be implemented as indicated by (U.N.) Resolution 2254,” de Mistura said.