GENEVA, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) — The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria met the Syrian government delegation on Friday, kicking off United Nations-brokered peace talks to end the country’s five-year-old war.
Staffan De Mistura, the UN envoy, met with the Syrian delegation after they arrived at Geneva’s Palais de Nations Friday evening. Syria’s main opposition group, the Higher Negotiating Committee(HNC), also agreed on Friday to enter the pace talks.
“The issue is that any type of ceasefire discussions which is obviously something that we are aiming at apart from substantial discussions on the future of Syria need two interlocutors,” Staffan De Mistura said after having met with the Syrian government delegation.
“That’s why for us it is very important to have any indication about where we are on the presence of the HNC ,” the special envoy added.
UN-brokered meetings are to take place over the next six months in view of finding lasting peace for Syria, a country at war since 2011.
Scheduled talks come against a backdrop of stalemates as initiatives failed to make headway in solving the political crisis which has gravely affected the country’s people.
Estimates reveal that 250,000 Syrian people have died in the five years since the war started and that over 4 million people have fled the Middle Eastern country as a result of protracted violence.
An additional 6.5 million have been internally displaced by conflict and 13.5 million people inside the country are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Two previous rounds of talks fell short of making divergent factions settle on a lasting agreement to bring peace to the country whose war is pitching Syrian president Bashar al-Assad against anti-government forces, with terrorist factions such as the Islamic State(IS) and Al-Nusra also in the mix.
One conscientious issue which has delayed efforts has been who to invite to talks, which not only aim to discuss governance, constitutional change and the holding of elections, but also address the implementation of a lasting ceasefire to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and the possibility of stopping the threat of IS.