Syria's Warring Parties Agree to Geneva Talks, UN Envoy Says

The UN special envoy said that the meeting will take place as soon as the coronavirus crisis allows

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A boy plays in a neighborhood heavily damaged by airstrikes in Idlib, March 12, 2020
A boy plays in a neighborhood heavily damaged by airstrikes in Idlib, March 12, 2020Credit: Felipe Dana/ AP

Opposing sides in Syria's conflict have agreed to reconvene in Geneva for negotiations on the constitution, United Nations Special Envoy Geir Pedersen said on Tuesday, adding that a lull in fighting could provide an opportunity to start healing "deep, deep mistrust" between them.

"As soon as the [coronavirus] pandemic situation allows, they have agreed to come to Geneva and they have agreed on an agenda for the next meeting," he told journalists. He did not give a date and said that a virtual meeting of the constitutional committee would not be possible.

"We need this to start somewhere," he said. "The Constitutional Committee could be that arena where confidence starts to build."
Pedersen is the fourth U.N. envoy to try to mediate peace in Syria where rebels fighting President Bashar Assad are holding onto a last piece of territory in the northwest.

Fighting has calmed since March when Turkey, which backs some groups opposed to Assad, agreed a ceasefire with Russia.

Pedersen said it was a "great relief" that there had not been more COVID-19 cases in the country, although warned of the risk of a wider spread. He said there had been 64 cases.

In the same briefing, Pedersen also repeated a message made to the UN Security Council on Monday and urged the United States and Russia to talk about a push for peace.

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