0154 GMT July 23, 2018
“I am very interested in this meeting because it is very important,” de Mistura said before the meeting, TASS reported.
The guarantors of the Syrian cease-fire – Russia, Iran and Turkey – are holding two-day consultations in Geneva. On June 19, de Mistura is due to attend a plenary meeting. Representatives of the Syrian opposition also arrived in the Swiss city.
The meetings will focus on setting up the Syrian constitutional committee. The Russian delegation is represented by Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin.
“We are seeing movement and we will keep seeking more of it,” de Mistura told reporters.
The envoy has a mandate from the UN Security Council to mediate between the Syrian government and opposition to find a political resolution to the conflict. However, several rounds of talks in Geneva since 2012 have ended in a stalemate.
“I don’t expect – let’s be frank – major breakthrough, okay? But I am confident that progress is possible and there is something moving in that direction and we need to capitalize on it,” de Mistura said.
The UN envoy has also scheduled talks next week with envoys from Britain, France, Germany, Jordan, the United States and Saudi Arabia, which have supported the Syrian opposition.
Earlier talks were focused on implementing UNSC Resolution 2254, which calls for a cease-fire and a political transition in Syria.
However, in recent months de Mistura has focused his attention on the diplomatic track initiated by Iran, Russia and Turkey, who have set up a parallel peace initiative based on talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, and the Russian resort town of Sochi.
A Syrian congress held in Sochi in January agreed to form a constitutional committee, with de Mistura assigned to select its members based on nominations from various blocs.
The war in Syria has claimed more than 400,000 lives, forced more than 11 million people to flee their homes and left much of the country in ruins.