The United Nations Security Council expects the Syrian government and the opposition to resume negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions, members of the council said in a written statement released Friday.
“The Members of the Security Council looked forward to the early resumption of the intra-Syrian negotiations and encouraged the Syrian parties to return to talks in good faith and to engage constructively and without preconditions on the agenda set out by the UN Special Envoy when talks resume,” the statement reads.
The council’s members expressed their support to efforts of the UN special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and approved his agenda for the upcoming discussion, that includes issues of state governance, constitutional reform, elections, counter-terrorism efforts and security measures.
The UN Security Council also reaffirmed its “strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,” and reiterated that “the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process” based on the 2012 Geneva Communique, UN Security Council resolutions and relevant statements of the International Syria Support Group.
The statement was adopted two days after a closed UN Security Council meeting with de Mistura, who announced plans to start the next round of talks between Damascus and the opposition on March 23. He said the discussions will be indirect and conducted through mediators.
From February 23 to March 3, after a ten-month break, the fourth round of talks with the participation of the delegations of Damascus and the opposition was held in Geneva. As a result, Staffan de Mistura passed out an unofficial document that includes provisions on the territorial integrity of Syria, the preservation of state institutions, including the army, and assistance to refugees. According to the envoy, there are four ‘baskets’ of issues which will form the agenda for the talks: governance, elections, a constitution, and an additional one on tackling terrorism. He announced his intention to continue the talks until the sides come to an agreement on all these issues.
In their Friday’s statement, members of the UN Security Council admitted that the resumption of intra-Syrian talks “was made possible by the ceasefire developed through the Astana process.”
In this respect, the Security Council called on the International Syria Support Group members “to use their influence over the parties to help end violations, reduce violence, build confidence and ensure safe, sustained and unhindered humanitarian access.”