RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Autor)
A seventh round of Syrian peace talks sponsored by the United Nations ended on July 14 in Geneva with no sign of agreement.
"We have made, as we were expecting and hoping, incremental progress. No breakthrough, no breakdown, no one walking out," said UN Syrian envoy Staffan de Mistura after briefing the UN Security Council on the talks.
The envoy met separately during the week with representatives of Syria's government and opposition groups, but the two sides did not talk to each other directly.
Mistura said one area of progress was a narrowing of the differences between the three main opposition groups so they have a more unified position. The opposition's disarray is one reason Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's representatives have refused to negotiate with them.
Mistura wants to merge the opposition camps before pushing for direct talks with the government, which he said he hopes might occur in the next round of talks he said would occur in September.
Mistura warned that efforts outside the negotiations to focus exclusively on eradicating terror groups in Syria are doomed to fail unless they are twinned with peace efforts.
A U.S.-led coalition allied with the Syrian Democratic Forces are focused on routing the Islamic State extremist group out of its Raqqa stronghold.
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