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Transcript of Press encounter with Staffan de Mistura after his meeting with the Syrian Arab Republic delegation

14 March 2016

SDeM: During the first meeting, which lasted about more than an hour together with the representation of the delegation of the government of the Syrian Republic, and led by ambassador Jafaari, we, as expected, went through various procedural issues that we wanted to clarify so we are all on the same page.

This is exactly what we will do with everyone else we will be meeting. Then we also came up with the fact that the next meeting, which is expected to take place on Wednesday morning, will be focusing on the agenda, the one set up by Resolution 2254. It was a useful meeting and I think we clarified quite a lot of issues.

On Wednesday, I want you to know that I will be going to Bern to thank the Swiss parliament and government for the remarkable contribution they have been giving and continue to give. I will do so on behalf of all delegations in order to make sure that these Geneva talks are taking place here, and will be taking place in such effective way in spite of short notice and changes.

Regarding the other points, I informed Ambassador Jafaari, this evening that I will be briefing the Security Council which is very eager. They should be informed and involved because they are the ones who have been insisting for these talks to take place and therefore are also the ones who should be associated with its progresses and possible difficulties.

The main point that has been stressed and that I will be stressing, is the inclusivity that we will be aiming at. In other words, our interlocutors will always be updated in terms. I mentioned that I have met the Syrian Women Advisory Board and that they have a huge influence on what we are doing because we need to have a clear picture of what Syrian people are feeling also from that point of view. That's basically where we are at the moment. There has been some ideas floating but I’m not going to comment on them at the moment. I will take three questions.

Q: How to you see the political process going forward from your perspective, given that you mentioned Resolution 2254 as a starting point?

SDeM: Well, you are asking me to prejudge the actual Intra-Syrian Talks, so I would only say, please read again the Resolution, the Geneva communiqué, and based on that you will see the guidance along which we will be going in order to be able to have the Intra-Syrian talks. It is exactly about your question: how to actually implement what has been indicated by the international community with the agreement of everybody.

Q: Inaudible

SDeM: My clarification is the following: I don’t know whether anyone else has a plan B here, I am only aware of a plan A, which is giving a maximum of chances and the maximum of pressure on the international community to ensure that the Intra-Syrian Talks, and the task forces for the cessation of hostilities and the humanitarian access is given the maximum of opportunities.
The alternative to that would be regrettably returning to where we were, which was basically an ongoing conflict, and which is going to be celebrated sadly and tragically in two days’ time.

Q: (In French, interpreted in English) Do you focus on the negotiations’ agenda or are you going to concentrate more on political issues?

SDeM: The agenda is very serious, it is not a small thing, it is about governance, which is fundamental, and if you look at Resolution 2254, it is about governance, constitution and new elections. So I think we will concentrate on the heart of the question.

Q:The Syrian Government has ruled out discussions on presidential elections, and the Syrian opposition say they will be focusing on the TGB (Transitional Government Body). These positions are drastically opposed. How do you think you will be able to narrow the gap between the two sides?

SDeM: As I said this morning, there is always, in any negotiations, especially as delicate and important and crucial like this one, a lot of strong statements, from rhetoric or preventive types. We should be talking between us about what will be the outcomes of the discussions and the negotiations, that will be the judgement.