The United Nations special envoy to Syria has vowed to step up efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis, saying the current round of Syrian peace talks in the Swiss city of Geneva aims to prepare the grounds for future negotiations.
“We remain alert to any opportunity to reduce violence,” Staffan de Mistura said during a press conference on Tuesday when the peace talks started.
He further called on the international community to step up efforts to bring an end to the deadly crisis.
“We do not have the luxury not to try,” de Mistura said.
He also expressed hope that the crisis in Syria will be resolved sooner to avoid more casualties.
“Guns will fall silent one day – it is inevitable as has been seen in countless other conflicts. The sooner they fall silent, the more lives will be saved,” he added.
Commenting on the current level of talks in Geneva, the UN official said, “This is not Geneva III.”
“These are closed, low-key, separate, structured discussions with the parties, to consult on the current crisis in Syria, the road ahead and the final destination of Syria at peace with itself. This is the necessary groundwork before we even get to a negotiating table,” he stressed.
The Western-backed Geneva I and Geneva II peace conferences on Syria were held in June 2012 and February 2014 respectively.
The two conferences ended in failure after foreign-sponsored opposition figures in the talks refused to discuss widespread terrorism in the country and persisted in demanding the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a precondition.
Back in February, de Mistura said that Assad must be involved in any peaceful solution to the crisis in the Arab country, an utterance which greatly infuriated Syria’s foreign-backed opposition.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fuelled by Takfiri groups has reportedly claimed the lives of over 222,000 people so far.
Over 7.2 million Syrians have also become internally displaced due to the ongoing crisis, according to the UN.