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U.N. to assess if either side trying to 'sabotage' Syria talks

U.N. to assess if either side trying to 'sabotage' Syria talks
From Reuters - December 7, 2017

GENEVA (Reuters) - The mediator of U.N.-led Syrian peace talks in Geneva will assess next week whether either side is trying to sabotage the process, he said on Thursday, after President Bashar al-Assads negotiators said they would turn up five days late.

We shall assess the behavior of both sides, government and opposition, in Geneva, U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura said. And based on that we will then decide how this... can be a building up or not, or a sabotage of Geneva.

If either side were seen to be sabotaging the process it could have a very bad impact on any other political attempt to have processes elsewhere, he said.

He said the Geneva rounds of talks were the only peace process backed by the U.N. Security Council, although there were many other initiatives being planned.

He did not elaborate, but Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is seeking re-election next year, has suggested holding a Syrian Congress in the Russian city of Sochi early in 2018.

Diplomats see Putins plan as a bid to draw a line under the war after seven years of fighting and to celebrate Russias role as the power that tipped the balance of the war and became the key player in the peace process.

Opposition negotiator Basma Kodmani told reporters the government side had wasted the chance for a week of direct negotiations, while the opposition was doing all it could.

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