First Published: 2017-02-16

UN envoy calls for greater Syria peace efforts
De Mistura in Moscow: Now is the right time to step up efforts to normalise the political process in Syria.
Middle East Online

De Mistura said the UN "supports" Russian-led peace efforts in Astana

MOSCOW - UN envoy Staffan de Mistura called Thursday for greater efforts in the push for peace in Syria, as he visited Moscow ahead of a fresh round of talks in Geneva.

De Mistura was in Russia for meetings with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as the United Nations gears up to hold negotiations in Switzerland on February 23.

"Now is the right time to step up efforts to normalise the political process in Syria," de Mistura told Lavrov in comments translated into Russian by the state-run TASS news agency.

TASS reported that de Mistura said the UN "supports" Russian-led peace efforts in the Kazakh capital of Astana, where armed opposition groups and Syrian regime representatives are set to hold a second round of indirect talks on Thursday.

The talks in Kazakhstan -- co-sponsored by Turkey and Iran -- are being billed as a prelude to the Geneva meeting, with negotiations expected to focus on shoring up a shaky ceasefire on the ground.

Moscow has increasingly taken the lead on shaping Syria's future after its military intervention on the side of leader Bashar al-Assad helped turn the tables in the protracted conflict.

Russia says the Astana process is meant to support the Geneva talks, but there has been speculation that it is working with Ankara to develop an alternative to the UN-led initiative.


Rebels evacuate Syria's Eastern Ghouta

Sarkozy says life ‘living hell’ since corruption allegations

Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Hezbollah leader says debt threatens Lebanon disaster

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

In world first, flight to Israel crosses Saudi airspace

Saudi, US must pursue 'urgent efforts' for Yemen peace: Mattis

US, Jordan launch new counterterrorism training centre

Two Hamas security force members killed in raid on bomb suspect

Turkey gives watchdog power to block internet broadcasts

EU leaders to condemn Turkey’s ‘illegal’ actions in Mediterranean

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting