UN Won't Confirm Postponement of Syrian Peace Talks
By VOA News January 27, 2017
The United Nations said Friday there was "no confirmation" of a postponement of the Syria talks scheduled for February, clouding a statement from Russia's foreign minister earlier in the day.
Sergei Lavrov said Friday during a meeting in Moscow with several Syrian rebel groups that the U.N.-hosted talks planned for February 8 would be postponed. He did not provide a reason for the postponement.
A spokesman for the U.N. envoy in Syria, however, said the list of diplomats attending the talks in Geneva hadn't been finalized and wouldn't confirm a postponement.
"There is no confirmation that the February talks are postponed. I said that we are going to be sure once the special envoy (Staffan de Mistura) is back," U.N. spokeswoman Yara Shariff told reporters.
Earlier this week, Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, brought delegates from the Syrian government and rebel groups to Kazakhstan for a round of peace talks that ended with the three nations agreeing to help monitor a partial cease-fire and work toward a political resolution to the Syrian conflict.
Turkey spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said Thursday his country will not allow certain fighters to spoil the cease-fire, which went into effect in late December. He also reiterated Turkey's position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has no place in Syria's future. Turkey has backed the rebels throughout the conflict that began in 2011 as peaceful protests before spiraling into a civil war.
Assad's fate has been a point of disagreement during multiple international efforts to achieve peace in Syria. The U.N. has created a framework that calls for a new constitution and new elections. Assad's allies, which include Russia and Iran, have said he should stay in power.
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