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‘Real’ Syria peace talks yet to start: UN

GENEVA -UNS/AFP- The UN on Friday said “incremental” progress was made during a fifth round of talks between Syria s warring parties, but warned the “real peace negotiations” had yet to begin.

Syrian government and opposition representatives had been “serious and engaged” during the latest nine days of talks in Geneva, UN mediator Staffan de Mistura told reporters.

He said all sides were “keen and ready to return to Geneva for a sixth round of talks,” adding that he would announce the date after discussions next week with UN chief Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council.

The two sides, who met with de Mistura separately, did finally delve into some substance, after spending four previous rounds squabbling over the agenda.

They began discussing four separate “baskets” of issues, on governance, drafting a new constitution, elections and combating terrorism in the war-ravaged country.

There was never much hope of a breakthrough, with the sides hopelessly deadlocked over the fate of President Bashar al-Assad and violence persisting in a six-year conflict that has already claimed more than 320,000 lives.

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