Syria peace talks delayed until Friday following opposition protests

Syria peace talks delayed until Friday following opposition protests
Peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups are to start on Friday, the UN special envoy on Syria announced Monday.
2 min read
25 January, 2016
De Mistura says invitations to the delegates will be sent out on Tuesday [Getty]

A new round of peace talks to end the Syrian conflict will begin in Geneva on Friday, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said. 

It comes after a delay over who will represent the country's fractious opposition.

Negotiations had been scheduled to open on Monday, but de Mistura told reporters "a stalemate" over the makeup of the delegations had forced the date back.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has piled pressure on Syrian opposition figures to attend, part of a renewed diplomatic push to end nearly five years of war in Syria.

De Mistura said invitations to the delegates were due to be sent out on Tuesday.

The so-called "proximity talks" are scheduled to last six months, with the first round lasting between two and three weeks, he said, adding he expected to do "a lot of shuttling" between the sides.

"We are all feeling... the time has come to try hard to produce an outcome," De Mistura told reporters in Geneva.

"That is why we have been careful and extremely... thorough in wanting to make sure that when and if we start, we start at least on the right foot," he said, adding: "It would be uphill anyway."

An earlier statement from Russia's foreign ministry said Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had called on De Mistura to set a start date "as quickly as possible", underscoring the growing urgency among global powers to end the crisis. 

Adding to the global angst over the Islamic State group, the EU's police agency Europol on Monday warned that the extremists were expected to focus more on Europe in coming attacks.