The sixth round of the Intra-Syrian negotiations begins in Geneva. The discussions officially start on May 16.
The delegations of the Syrian government, the opposition, the “Moscow” and “Cairo” groups will participate in this round of negotiations. Discussions will be held through an intermediary – Staffan de Mistura. The agenda includes four directions set by the special envoy – forming the government, drafting the constitution, holding elections, and combating terrorism.
Duration of the talks is the main difference of this round – negotiations will take four days, from May 16 to May 19. The previous rounds generally lasted for around two weeks. According to de Mistura, the tight deadlines will make the discussions more business-like.
Another important difference from the two previous rounds that took place in late February – early March and then at the end of March include changes in the situation “on the ground”. At the international meeting on Syria in Astana on May 3-4. Russia, Turkey and Iran signed a memorandum on creating four de-escalation zones in the republic. They cover the areas where the most active fighting between the government and the opposition took place in recent months.
The establishment of de-escalation zones is expected to strengthen the ceasefire regime in force from December 30, 2016, to stop fighting between the government and the opposition and thereby open the door for discussion of the political settlement of the conflict in Syria. De-escalation zones, however, do not imply termination of fighting terrorists.