UN deputy Syria envoy hopeful for southwest ceasefire deal

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A ceasefire deal agreed for southwestern Syria is a positive development that could help prop up the political process aimed at ending the country’s six-year war, the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria said on Saturday.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy told reporters in Damascus.

The United States, Russia and Jordan reached a ceasefire and “de-escalation agreement” for southwestern Syria set to take effect on Sunday.

The announcement came after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit of major economies.

Previous ceasefires have failed to hold for long and it was not clear how much the actual combatants in the area - Syrian government forces and the main rebel groups in the southwest - are committed to this latest effort.

“All of this leads to supporting the political process,” Ramzy said after meeting with government officials about UN-based peace talks that open in Geneva next week.

“This development helps create the appropriate environment for the talks,” he added, expressing hope that agreements would be reached for other parts of Syria as well.

Among other issues, the latest round of UN peace talks, due to start on Monday, will include “continuing technical negotiations about the constitutional and legal matters related to the political process,” Ramzi said.

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