Syrian government says ready for further peace talks

Syria’s government said it was ready for further peace talks with the opposition without foreign interference

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Syria’s government said on Sunday it was ready for further peace talks with the opposition and that it was intent on a political solution to the five-year conflict.

“Syria ... is ready to continue the Syrian-Syrian dialogue without any preconditions ... and without foreign interference, with the support of the United Nations,” state news agency SANA quoted an official in the foreign ministry as saying.

London-based political analyst Ghassan Ibrahim told Al Arabiya English the reality is “totally” different from what people hear from these diplomatic statements.

Ghassan said: “When the Syrian regime announced they are ready, they did not really mean to achieve real negotiations and deal in Syria. He is just telling the world ‘I am constructive and trying to achieve peace in Syria,’ but in reality he is not. Bashar al Assad said several times he wants to achieve military victory. The regime has no other option but to say they are ready for negotiations, to show Russia their main ally, ‘look I am not an obstacle I am trying to engage with Geneva negotiations.’”

“The Syrian regime is trying to cooperate with Iranians on the ground more than the Russians because the Iranians want military victory, while the Russians want to strike a deal with the Americans and impose on the Syrians from both sides. But the regime is mainly focusing on cooperation with the Iranians because the Iranians have a different agenda, a sectarian agenda. Nothing we hear from the regime is serious, we’ve heard this many times before and we will hear it again and again until we see a real agreement between the Russians and Americans,” he added.

The UN hopes to convene a new round of intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva in August, its Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said this week.

Previous rounds of talks this year broke down as fighting escalated, particularly around Aleppo, where government forces recently cut off the only road into rebel-held areas of the divided northern city.

The United States and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict, are meanwhile to discuss an American proposal for closer military cooperation and intelligence sharing on Syria to combat extremist groups.

Secretary of State John Kerry said this month that Washington and Damascus ally Moscow had reached a common understanding on the steps needed to get Syria’s peace process back on track.