The second day of Syrian peace talks wrapped up in Geneva on Friday with no signs of progress and the participating sides apparently unaware of the way the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was going to direct the negotiations.
The Intra-Syrian talks kicked off on Thursday with Staffan de Mistura holding separate bilateral meetings with representatives of the Syrian government and opposition groups. He then said that separate consultations would continue on Friday.
What’s the game plan?
Some of the participants Sputnik talked to said they were unaware about the “game plan” for the talks, the first such meeting in almost a year.
“Maybe Mr. De Mistura left the situating up in the air to prevent any problems arising from the very start,” Jamal Mohammed Suleiman, a representative of the opposition Cairo Platform told Sputnik.
Briefing reporters ahead of the fourth round of the talks in Geneva, the Cairo Platform’s leader Jihad Makdissi described the upcoming talks as “a blind date” with Mr. de Mistura who, inviting the delegations to come to Geneva, failed to provide them with any definitive itinerary.
“I have no meetings with de Mistura scheduled for today. Maybe we’ll meet tomorrow,” Makdissi told Sputnik on Friday.
Meanwhile, sources close to Staffan de Mistura said that he certainly has a game plan and his office is working according to this plan.
They refused to elaborate though arguing that if published, it could have a negative impact on the negotiations and could even prompt some of the delegations to misinterpret it and walk out.
“Today we met with Mr. de Mistura to discuss the format of the upcoming talks. He handed us a document which we agreed to study. I will discuss it during our next meeting and will inform him about our position,” Jaafari told reports after the meeting.
Still, despite all the mist surrounding the Geneva parley, some information has started seeping into the media.
A source close to the talks’ organizers, said that some “limited progress” would be achieved during the present round, but added that there would hardly be any direct talks between government and opposition delegations.
During three previous rounds of talks in Geneva last year, the rivals never sat down at the same table, instead leaving de Mistura to shuttle between them.
The source also said that the opposition delegates could merge to take on the official Syrian delegation.
“We still have to work this out,” he told Sputnik.
He added that the planned arrival by the chief of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Middle Eastern and African desk, Sergei Vershinin, would hardly bring about any breakthrough in the talks.
Since 2011, Syria has been engulfed in a civil war, with government forces fighting against numerous opposition and terrorist groups, including al-Nusra Front and Daesh, banned in a range of countries, including Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in December that the Syrian government and armed opposition had reached an agreement on a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and on readiness to start peace talks.