The Syrian government is ready for a second round of United Nations-sponsored peace talks without preconditions this week, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told the U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, Syria’s state agency SANA reported Monday as the country prepares for parliamentary elections on April 13.
“Muallem reaffirmed in his meeting with De Mistura the Syrian position on the political solution to the crisis and the commitment to Syrian dialogue under Syrian leadership, without pre-conditions,” SANA said.
The first round of the talks ended late March with little progress except for a fragile partial ceasefire between government forces and the Saudi-backed opposition forces, excluding terror groups such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front.
Despite several violations of the truce, both sides have largely respected the cessation of hostilities, which was pushed for by both the United States and Russia.
U.N.’s Special envoy to Syria de Mistura said he urged Damascus to support Syria's shaky truce and allow more humanitarian aid access.
"We did raise and discuss the importance of protecting and maintaining and supporting the cessation of hostilities, which is, as you know, fragile but is there," de Mistura told reporters in Damascus after the meeting.
Meanwhile, the state agency also reported that the provinces under the control of Syrian President Bashar Assad were ready for the April 13 parliamentary elections, the second one since the beginning of the conflict.
The last elections took place in March 2012 and Syria’s election committee chairman Khalaf al-Izzaoui said that vote had about 51 percent turnout, equivalent to five million people.
On Feb. 22 Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a decree ordering the parliamentary elections take place on April 13. However, Assad told Sputnik late March he expected little change to the makeup of the parliament.
The government delegation is expected to go to Geneva the day after the elections. The talks are expected to focus on writing a new constitution and the new parliament would be in charge of writing the draft if such a move is agreed on.
Senior officials from the U.N., Washington and Moscow have suggested a possible presidential election could take place within the next few years as part of a long-term political solution.
The elections will be seen as a way for Assad and his government to assert popular support and strengthen their bargaining hand during the second round of the peace talks in Geneva.