UN Syria Envoy To Hold Talks With Russia

Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura delivers remarks at a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

The UN's Syria envoy yesterday said that he will hold talks with Russian officials next week but without the U.S. present after previous plans for a trilateral meeting were "postponed".

The United Nations mediator for Syria said yesterday he would hold talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov in Geneva on April 24, and that the United States had declined to take part in any trilateral meeting for now.

"The trilateral meeting is not off the table, it is simply being postponed", de Mistura told reporters. He says there are many things to discuss regarding the upcoming meeting in the Kazakh capital, Astana, and on the Geneva peace talks.

"I would say that the indication I got from Washington is exactly that, that there is clearly an intention to maintain and resume these trilateral meetings", he said.

Meanwhile, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Thursday said "Incontrovertible" test results show sarin gas or a similar substance was used in the chemical weapons attack in Syria earlier this month. "But at this time there is no new trilateral meeting scheduled", a USA spokesman in Geneva said in an email.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are sponsors of the Astana negotiations on May 3 and 4, which will focus on arranging a cease-fire in Syria so peace talks in Geneva can proceed. All sides have flagged their readiness to allow aid convoys to reach Douma and later other besieged towns in the eastern Ghouta province near Damascus, U.N. humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said. "They are in a desperate situation". The victims in the suicide auto bombing on April 15 at a rebel-held transit point where civilians were being evacuated included 68 children, and scores of others were injured.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack at the Rashidin transit point west of Aleppo, one of the deadliest episodes since the start of Syria's six-year civil war.



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