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UN Envoy To Reconvene Syria Peace Talks In Geneva Next Week

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

The United Nation's Syria envoy will reconvene political talks between government and opposition leaders aimed at forging a peace agreement next week, his office said on May 8.

Staffan de Mistura's office said he will convene the latest negotiations on May 16 in Geneva, and he will brief the UN Security Council later this month.

De Mistura said he hopes an agreement struck last week in Astana, Kazakhstan, by Russia, Iran, and Turkey to establish safe zones within Syria will lay the groundwork for the UN negotiations.

Mistura hopes the deal "will be implemented in full -- thus bringing about a significant deescalation in violence, and helping shape an environment conducive to the political intra-Syrian talks in Geneva," his office said.

Iran and Russia support Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey backs rebels battling Assad. In announcing their agreement, they said they would co-guarantee a cease-fire within the safe zones that began last weekend.

Years of diplomatic initiatives have failed to end Syria's six-year war, which has killed more than 320,000 and displaced millions since it started in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

The sides remain deadlocked over the fate of Assad.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP