The United Nations Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a new round of negotiations with a Syrian government delegation during the intra-Syria talks at The Palais des Nations in Geneva on July 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The United Nations Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura has hoped for a “serious negotiation” between the Damascus government and the opposition as the world body expects to convene a next round of talks on the crisis in the Arab country in October or November.
De Mistura said Thursday that the time remaining to another round of UN-backed negotiations on Syria would be a “major opportunity for the opposition to take stock of the realities on the ground.”
The UN diplomat was clearly referring to intra-Syrian talks between the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which serves as an umbrella group for militants and opposition groups, and two more moderate opposition alliances. The three have been discussing ways to set aside differences and establish a united front in the next round of negotiations on Syria’s future.  
A major cause of failure in previous UN talks has been HNC’s insistence on departure of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad from power. The two other opposition camps have pressured the HNC to forgo the condition since it could no longer work as a bargaining chip in talks due to Syria’s continued victories against the militants.
De Mistura told reporters in Geneva that the opposition should “take stock of their own need to be unified,” adding that anti-government forces should finally reach an “inclusive and perhaps even a more pragmatic approach” to the situation in Syria.
The United Nations Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura (3L) attends a new round of negotiations with Syria's main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) leader Nasr al-Hariri (R) during the intra-Syria talks at The Palais des Nations in Geneva on July 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
De Mistura said there could be a key meeting between opposition forces in the coming weeks in which they would formally reorganize their delegation ahead of face-to-face talks with the Syrian government.
The UN official said he may stage “preparatory” talks in Geneva in September, but insisted that his office “will be focusing on the real agenda for the real substantive talks that we hope will be taking place in October.”
The UN has organized seven rounds of almost unsuccessful talks between Syrian government and foreign-backed opposition since a devastating war began in the Arab country in 2011.

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