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  • Turkish and Russian military vehicles return following a joint patrol in northeast Syria, as they are pictured from near the Turkish border town of Kiziltepe in Mardin province, Turkey, November 1, 2019.

    Turkish and Russian military vehicles return following a joint patrol in northeast Syria, as they are pictured from near the Turkish border town of Kiziltepe in Mardin province, Turkey, November 1, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 November 2019

“I believe it has gone much better than most people would have expected,” Geir Pedersen told journalists in Geneva.

A U.N. envoy concluded an opening round of talks on the political future of Syria on Friday meant to bring political reconciliation after 8-1/2 years of war, saying they went better than expected and would reconvene later this month.

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Acknowledging that discussions were sometimes “very painful” Geir Pedersen said the delegates to the Constitutional Committee from the government, opposition and civil society addressed them with professionalism.

“I believe it has gone much better than most people would have expected,” he told journalists in Geneva. “The next round of discussions will start on November 25,” Pedersen said.

He said the discussions focused on issues of sovereignty, territorial integrity and terrorism, without going into details.

There was no immediate deal on the release of thousands of detainees in the country, one of the points that Pedersen had previously said was an important step needed to build confidence between the parties.

The peace talks will also touch on the current situation in northern Syria, which has recently taken a turn for the worse after the U.S. military abruptly withdrew from the border region. 

Despite the presence of the Syrian government and opposition, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council will be excluded from these talks. The SDC has previously demanded to have a place at the negotiations table, but these demands have been ignored by all opposing parties. 

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Syria Geneva UN
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