UN envoy: Syria talks in Switzerland ‘no longer possible’

Jul 18, 2022, 3:39 AM | Updated: 3:40 pm

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Syria has expressed regret that talks between the government and opposition scheduled to start on July 25 in Geneva “are no longer possible,” reportedly because President Bashir Assad’s government contends that Switzerland is not neutral because of its support for European Union sanctions against its ally Russia.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq didn’t directly confirm the reason but said Monday that “we do reaffirm the neutrality of Switzerland as a venue for much of the work that the United Nations does.” Geneva is the major European headquarters for the 193-member United Nations.

Syrian envoy Geir Pedersen said in a statement that a ninth round of talks on revising the constitution of the conflict-torn country could not be held and alluded to the neutrality issue, stressing the importance of all players in the 11-year conflict “protecting and firewalling the Syrian political process from their differences elsewhere in the world.”

Haq stressed that “discussions on Syria need to be kept as much as possible separate and apart from discussions on other topics.”

A 2012 U.N. road map to peace in Syria approved by representatives of the United Nations, Arab League, European Union, Turkey and all five permanent Security Council members including Russia calls for the drafting of a new constitution. It ends with U.N.-supervised elections with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate. A Security Council resolution adopted in December 2015 unanimously endorsed the road map.

At a Russia-hosted Syrian peace conference in January 2018, an agreement was reached to form a 150-member committee to draft a new constitution. A smaller, 45-member body would do the actual drafting, including 15 members each from the government, opposition and civil society. It took until September 2019 for the committee to be formed, and after eight rounds of talks little progress has been achieved so far.

Russia’s military support for Syria changed the trajectory of the Syrian conflict. The EU imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and stepped up sanctions after President Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Pedersen encouraged the Syrian parties “to engage in constructive diplomacy” and said he would continue to engage with them “and provide more information in due course.”

Haq, the U.N. spokesman, said Pedersen didn’t want “any sorts of events that are just for show” when it became clear that the July 25-29 meeting could not take place in Geneva.

“He’ll keep working to see what actual substantive results he can make for the Syrian people, who have been waiting for far too long for progress on this,” Haq said. “At this stage, I don’t have any other venue … and we will see what happens next.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Mt. Rainier death...

Associated Press

Missing Mount Rainier climber’s body found in crevasse; he was celebrating 80th birthday

Search crews on Mount Rainier have found the body of a man matching the description of an 80-year-old solo climber reported missing

22 hours ago

Washington gun restrictions...

Associated Press

Judge rejects attempt to block new Washington state gun restrictions

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request to block a new Washington state law banning the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles

2 days ago

FILE - A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference, April 28, 2015,...

Associated Press

Microsoft will pay $20M to settle U.S. charges of illegally collecting children’s data

Microsoft will pay a fine of $20 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it illegally collected and retained the data of children

2 days ago

FILE - OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman gestures while speaking at University College London as part of his ...

Associated Press

OpenAI boss ‘heartened’ by talks with world leaders over will to contain AI risks

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said Monday he was encouraged by a desire shown by world leaders to contain any risks posed by the artificial intelligence technology his company and others are developing.

3 days ago

FILE - The draft of a bill that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., neg...

Associated Press

Debt deal imposes new work requirements for food aid and that frustrates many Democrats

Democrats are deeply conflicted about the debt ceiling deal, fearing damage has been done to safety net programs

4 days ago

Seattle lawyer...

Associated Press

Lawsuit alleging ex-deputy falsified arrest report settled for $250K

A lawsuit filed by a Washington oyster farmer accusing a former county deputy of falsifying an arrest report

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

UN envoy: Syria talks in Switzerland ‘no longer possible’