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Roadmap to peace Swiss to lead Syria working group talks in Geneva

The city of Aleppo, destroyed by Syrian government air strikes

(Keystone)

Swiss diplomats are set to lead one of four working groups on how to implement a roadmap to peace in Syria, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter told Swiss public television (SRF) on Tuesday. Mediators are due to begin work in Geneva in the coming days.

Burkhalter told SRF that Switzerland would help support the UN-led working groups, which would include representatives of the Syrian government and Syrian opposition groups. He said he expected mediators to start work in Geneva in November. 

The UN mediator in Syria's conflict, Staffan de Mistura told the UN Security Council in July that these groups would address safety and protection for all, political and constitutional issues, military and security issues, and public institutions, reconstruction and development. 

De Mistura told the council that he felt it was too soon for another full-blown peace conference in Geneva. Two Syria conferences were held in Geneva in 2012 and 2014, but failed to bring peace. 

De Mistura said that the most polarizing element in the current roadmap to peace in Syria adopted by key nations in Geneva in June 2012 is the formation of a transitional government with full executive powers, which opposition groups insist on and the government says is unconstitutional.

The roadmap ends with elections and would require Syrian President Bashar Assad to relinquish power at some unspecified point. 

Over the last two and a half months de Mistura held talks with over 200 individuals - Syrians and non-Syrians - on finding a political solution. 

A Syrian government crackdown on a pro-democracy movement in 2011 led to an armed uprising. Radical Islamic State militants have since seized on the chaos to declare a caliphate in territory they have seized in Syria and neighbouring Iraq. 

Western powers have supported non-Islamist rebels in Syria and said there was no room for Assad in a future Syria. 

The four-year-old Syrian conflict has left at least 250,000 killed and turned more than four million people into refugees.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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