Syria: Regime reportedly ready to talk transition

The Syrian opposition at Geneva IV peace talks said Wednesday they had been told by UN mediator Staffan de Mistura that the regime delegation had agreed to discuss the issue of political transition.

"We hear from de Mistura a positive thing. Due to the Russian pressure, there is acceptance to tackle the issue of... political transition," Nasr al-Hariri, head of the Syrian opposition delegation, told a press conference at the UN in Geneva after meeting with de Mistura.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, whose government supports Bashar al-Assad's regime, met the opposition delegation Wednesday afternoon in Geneva. Gatilov said beforehand that he would listen to the opposition's view of the current situation.

"Today, we will have a meeting with Russia's deputy foreign minister. In this meeting, we are going to discuss in details the issues related to cease-fire and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in different areas in Syria, especially Eastern Ghouta, and to seek a way to support the political process that is taking place now," Hariri said.

About the issue of political transition, Hariri said, "We hope that Russia will have a constructive role in this issue."

Russia on Tuesday called for the opposing sides in the Syrian peace talks to negotiate directly.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Gatilov said: Direct talks, that is what we [have been] calling for from the very beginning. Unfortunately, this has not happened until now.

On Monday, Hariri said he recognized the openness of Russian officials in their approach to discussions.

The latest round of talks to find a resolution to the six-year conflict began last Thursday following the suspension of negotiations last April.

Both sides were in the same room on the opening day to hear de Mistura call for an end to the war. The Syrian people desperately want an end to this conflict and you all know it, he said. You are the first ones to tell us it.

However, the opposing delegations have yet to talk face-to-face.

Gatilov also said Moscow is open to discussions with the U.S. over Syria.

We are open in all contexts with the American administration and we always were constructive in finding possible ground for our common cooperation, first of all, in the fight against terrorism in Syria, he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump's policy on Syria remains unclear.

Since civil war in Syria erupted in March 2011, more than 250,000 people have been killed, according to the UN. However, the Syrian Center for Policy Research puts the death toll at more than 470,000.

Source: Anadolu Agency