UN claims Syria truce has saved 3,000 lives

The UN’s Syria envoy said on Thursday that April 9 would be a 'target date' for peace talks to resume in Geneva

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The UN’s Syria envoy said on Thursday that April 9 would be a “target date” for peace talks to resume in Geneva, adding that the fragile ceasefire that took effect on Feb. 27 has saved 3,000 lives.

Staffan de Mistura’s comments seem to disregard a regime request that negotiations not resume until after Syrian parliamentary elections set for April 13.

The moderate opposition, which believes the elections are a farce, has rejected that.

Asked about the Damascus request to wait until after the elections, de Mistura said: “The only elections that I feel authorised to comment on... are those elections that will be supervised by the UN,” meaning a vote held after a peace deal is agreed.

Wrapping up the current round of indirect peace talks on Thursday, Mistura added that he was encouraged by the fact that there has been “no walkouts, no drama” in the talks that lasted 10 days.

The Syrian government plans to hold scheduled parliamentary poll in government-held parts of Syria on April 13 and has said it wanted the talks to resume after that date.

De Mistura appeared to be making a compromise by saying the talks will start “at least” on April 9 “but if people want to come on the 13th or 14th they are warmly welcome.”

“I am expecting and hoping ... that the next round of talks will not be focusing on principles again – we have had enough of that - there are many valid points there, but we have to start focusing on the political process,” the UN envoy said.

He said that none of the sides had refused a document he had drawn up with common guiding principles to underpin the talks and added that he aimed to reconvene on April 9, although some parties may come as late as April 14, a day after parliamentary elections in Syria.

(With Reuters and the Associated Press)

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