New round of Syrian peace talks begin in Geneva

World Today

After six years of war, there are low hopes for Syrian peace talks. The first day of meetings in Geneva ended with the two sides in the same room, but there were no direct discussions or negotiations.

CGTN’s Kate Parkinson reports.

New round of Syrian peace talks begin in Geneva

UN-brokered peace talks on Syria have resumed in Geneva. While there are low hopes for a breakthrough, already there has been progress as government and opposition delegations met face to face for the first time. However, large gaps remain between the two side, not least of which the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

It was a very low-key start to the first U.N.-led talks in almost a year as negotiators from the Syrian government and the opposition arrived for separate meetings with U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura.

Previous attempts to negotiate an end to the conflict in Syria have collapsed as violence escalated. But despite almost daily violations, a nationwide ceasefire, brokered by Turkey and Russia, is generally holding.

Just hours after the rival delegations arrived, Mistura admitted he saw little common ground between the two sides.

“I am not expecting an immediate breakthrough from this round of negotiations, but the beginning of a series of rounds that should enable to go much more in depth on the substantive issues that are required for a political solution in Syria,” said De Mistura.

The problem with trying to find a political solution for Syria is that the rival camps remain bitterly divided on key issues – the biggest being the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This is the fourth time talks on Syria have been convened here in Geneva, but it is the first time the rival parties have been in the same room.