New round of Syria talks to begin on November 28

United Nations: A new round of UN-led talks aimed at ending Syria’s six-year war will take place in Geneva from November 28, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday. The talks will follow-up on a meeting next week in the Kazakh capital of Astana between Russia, Iran and Turkey that is also aimed at achieving a settlement.
De Mistura told the UN Security Council that with the defeat of the IS in their strongholds of Raqa and Deir Ezzor, the Syrian peace process had reached a “moment of truth.”
“We need to get the parties into real negotiations,” the envoy said.
Seven rounds of talks have achieved only incremental progress towards a political deal, with negotiations deadlocked over the fate of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
The opposition is demanding that any settlement provide for a transition of power to end Assad’s rule but as government forces make gains on the battleground, there is little likelihood of a breakthrough on that issue.
The Geneva talks — the eight round convened by the United Nations — must focus on steps toward drafting a new constitution and holding UN-supervised elections in Syria, De Mistura said.
More than 330,000 people have died and millions have been driven from their homes in the conflict in Syria.
Meanwhile, President Bashar al Assad and his family have no role in the future Syria, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday.
“The United States wants a whole and unified Syria with no role for Bashar al Assad in the government,” Tillerson told reporters in Geneva on the last leg of a week-long trip. “The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end. The only issue is how that should that be brought about.”
Tillerson said the only reason Assad’s forces had succeeded in turning the tide in the more than six-year war was “air support they have received from Russia”. Iran, the other main ally of Damascus, should not be given credit for the defeat of IS, as it was a “hanger-on”, he said. — Agencies