The Syrian opposition at the Geneva IV peace talks said on Wednesday that they were told by U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura that the regime delegation has agreed to discuss the issue of political transition.
"We have heard a positive thing from de Mistura. Due to Russian pressure, there has been acceptance for tackling the issue of... political transition," Nasr al-Hariri, head of the Syrian opposition delegation, told a press conference at the U.N. in Geneva after a meeting with de Mistura.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, whose government supports Bashar Assad's regime, met the opposition delegation on 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 of the issues related to the 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."
On Tuesday, Russia 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 talks' opening day to hear de Mistura call for an end to the war. 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.
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