Syrians walk through the rubble following reported rocket attacks by rebel fighters on the Christian neighbourhood of Suleimaniyah, in northern Aleppo, on April 11, 2015
Syrians walk through the rubble following reported rocket attacks by rebel fighters on the Christian neighbourhood of Suleimaniyah, in northern Aleppo, on April 11, 2015 © George Ourfalian - AFP
Syrians walk through the rubble following reported rocket attacks by rebel fighters on the Christian neighbourhood of Suleimaniyah, in northern Aleppo, on April 11, 2015
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AFP
Last updated: April 24, 2015

Separate talks with Syria rival sides to start May 4: UN

Banner Icon The United Nations said Friday it would host separate talks with rival sides in Syria from May 4 in a bid to kickstart stalled negotiations to end the four-year conflict.

The United Nations said Friday it would host separate talks with rival sides in Syria from May 4 in a bid to kickstart stalled negotiations to end the four-year conflict.

"The Geneva consultation invitations have gone out a couple of days ago," UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told reporters, saying the talks would last between four and six weeks and would be at "mostly ambassadorial level and expert level".

He said "as many stakeholders as possible" had been invited, including different Syrian factions and regional and international players.

While terrorism-listed entities like the Islamic State group and Al-Nusra have not been invited to the talks, Fawzi said there will be those who have relationships with them, those who can communicate with them."

Iran, which has been excluded from two rounds of joint negotiations in Switzerland, has been included on the list this time.

The UN has invited "all stakeholders..., including the regional and international actors, (and) Iran is regional," Fawzi told AFP in an email.

He emphasised though that Iran would only be talking with UN peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and his deputy, "not multiple parties sitting around a table."

The talks would be "low key, low profile," he said.

Fawzi said the consultations would take "stock of where we are now, almost three years after the Geneva communique was adopted and ratified".

The communique is the road map for a political transition in Syria, agreed during a first round of Geneva negotiations hosted by one of de Mistura's predecessors Kofi Annan in June 2012.

De Mistura, a Swedish-Italian career diplomat who was appointed UN envoy for Syria last July, is set to address the Security Council in New York later Friday.

It remains unclear whether he will have more success than his predecessors Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi in ending the conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people since March 2011.

In January, de Mistura said conditions were not yet right to try to launch more talks after the two first rounds of negotiations in Switzerland failed.

The second Geneva conference, mediated by Brahimi in early 2014, failed to make any significant headway in ending the war.

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