Friday, March 31

Check out the chintzy conference room for the latest Geneva talks on Syria

Looks like a courtroom in Communist East Germany

The photo shows Syrian peace talks at the UN Palace of Nations in Geneva on March 29 between Saudi-controlled High Negotiations Committee (HNC) delegation, which terms itself the main opposition to the Syrian government; the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and his delegation; and a Russian delegation, including my favorite envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, who always manages an almost supernatural calm while he's enduring blasts of hot air.

But my how times have changed! Here's the conference room they used at the Palace of Nations for Syrian peace talks on January 13, 2016. Tasteful:

Oh wait; that meeting was for de Mistura and ambassadors to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The March 2017 meeting at the UN palace was just for a bunch of mercenaries in the pay of Al Saud, which, I might add, also has to foot the bills for hotel and meals for that lot during negotiations. Just a cup of cappuccino costs an arm and a leg in Geneva except at the Palace of Nations cafes, so the Saudis probably make the HNC delegation eat there.

So did they get anything accomplished during this, the fifth round of the Geneva Process talks? Let's hope, or the sixth round will be meeting in the Palace of Nations garage.
GENEVA – A Russian delegation and High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Opposition (HNC) on Wednesday (March 29) both reflected positively on their direct meetings as the fifth round of the UN-backed Syria peace talks entered into its sixth day.
Speaking after their one-hour meeting, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov and the Syrian opposition said they hope this round of negotiations can make progress to ensure that peace talks can continue in the future.
"We had a very open exchange of views on the current stage of the negotiations. And we came to the common conclusion that we would be very much in favor of having good development this round and continuation of discussions, in order to reach the goal of independent territorial integrity in Syria, a pluralistic state and all of these questions should be decided by the Syrians themselves in the course of the negotiations," said Gennady Gatilov.
From the HNC side:
The HNC said the meeting with Russia centered on Syria's political process and humanitarian aid. The HNC said it stressed its concern about the progress made in this area. It also handed its proposals for a transition of power and schedule of elections to Staffan de Mistura. 
"We believe that these talks have been very positive. Russia also expressed its will in holding such discussions to promote the ongoing Geneva talks in the future. Russia said the next round of Astana talks will be held in the first week of May, which on this occasion is making preparations for the political progress made here in Geneva," said Salem al-Meslet, HNC spokesman.
Okay, they agreed to hold more talks. I'll mark that as a successful negotiation. But I can't wait for the talks in Astana and I'll bet the HNC can't either. Remember the conference room there?

Now that's a conference room.


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