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Syria peace talks could resume next month: UN

The United Nations envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura has suggested that talks meant to end the conflict in the Arab country could resume in July and after the holy month of Ramadan ends.

De Mistura said Wednesday that the new round of negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition could take place “sometime early July,” before the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 7-8.

He said Russia and the United States, as the major stakeholders of the conflict who back opposing sides, could hold useful discussions during the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Syria is certainly on the radar screen of both and this is a good time to discuss it,” the UN diplomat said.

De Mistura added that the talks could build on what has been achieved in a separate initiative launched by Russia, Iran and Turkey. The three countries agreed in May in the Kazakh capital of Astana to establish four safe zones across Syria where fighting could de-escalate. The initiative has managed to significantly decrease the hostilities although the sponsor nations still disagree on precise outlines and how they should go on with policing the zones. That caused the parties to indefinitely postpone a new round of talks that had been scheduled for this week.

He hailed the talks in Astana, saying the achievements reached there could form an important part of future efforts to establish peace in Syria.

“We hope that what is being done in Astana can be expanded in order to (reach)… a total ceasefire,” he said.

According to the UN estimates, more than 320,000 people have been killed and millions more have been displaced as a result of more than six years of war in Syria.