Syria’s ceasefire: Truce provides glimmer of hope for besieged country


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OPEN-ENDED: UN diplomat Staffan de Mistura says Syria’s pause in hostilities will expire in around two weeks time

OPEN-ENDED: UN diplomat Staffan de Mistura says Syria’s pause in hostilities will expire in around two weeks time

Syria’s ceasefire is ‘open-ended’

The UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters on Wednesday that Syria’s pause in hostilities is ‘open-ended’.

De Mistura would now press on with more peace talks - though neither the Syrian government nor the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) have confirmed they will attend.

The UN diplomat said he had heard some of the warring sides had indicated the ceasefire - which started at midnight on 27th February - would expire in two weeks.

After a meeting on Syrian humanitarian issues in Geneva, De Mistura said: “From the UN point of view and the Geneva meetings we have been having on the task force and certainly [the] Munich understanding, there was an open-ended concept regarding the cessation of hostilities.”

The Munich meeting in February was a key point in Syrian peace process, when De Mistura asked its international backers, led by the United States and Russia, to do more to make the warring sides negotiate.

They decided on opting for a ceasefire, and the opposition High Negotiations Committee said it would support a two-week halt to the fighting.

De Mistura plans to attend peace talks on Monday, and said he will focus on the core issues of governance, elections within 18 months and a new constitution.

The group of talks would not run beyond 24th March and there would then be a break before resuming, he said, without revealing any details.

Asked if the talks could be delayed further from an original start date of 7th March, De Mistura said the format gave him a lot of flexibility.

The United Nations, which has delivered aid to 10 of 18 besieged areas across Syria in the last four weeks, is working to overcome obstacles and get aid out to the remaining areas, Jan Egeland who chairs the humanitarian task force told Reuters.

Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad said the truce provided a ‘glimmer of hope’ for the country. He told the German broadcaster ARD: “We will play our part to make the whole thing work.”

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