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Friday, 11 March 2016 19:12

De Mistura says UN-observed elections in Syria in 18 months

De Mistura says UN-observed elections in Syria in 18 months
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said Friday presidential and legislative elections in the country, which will be observed by the United Nations, will be held in the next 18 months.

“New elections ... should be held 18 months from the start of talks, that is from March 14. The elections, both presidential and parliamentary, will be under UN observation,” de Mistura said in an interview with Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

A new round of UN-mediated peace talks between the Syrian government and foreign-backed opposition delegates will start on March 14. Negotiations are expected to end by March 24.

De Mistura said reaching an agreement on a new all-inclusive government would be one of the key points during the upcoming negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland. The other two main issues to be discussed are the adoption of a new constitution and the holding of elections.

“I hope that during the first stage of talks, we reach progress at least on the first question, it doesn't matter whether this is on paper,” said the UN envoy.

“We are not sending out new invitations,” de Mistura said, to the forthcoming intra-Syrian talks.

Also on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the United Nations to engage Kurds in the political process aimed at the resolution of the five-year crisis, warning that their exclusion would lead to a potential disintegration of Syria and separatist sentiments.

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