Opposing sides in the Syrian war came face-to-face in U.N. peace talks for the first time in three years on Thursday, to hear mediator Staffan de Mistura implore them to cooperate to find a way out of almost six years of war.
“I ask you to work together. I know it’s not going to be easy to end this horrible conflict and lay the foundation for a country at peace with itself, sovereign and unified,” Mistura told the delegates sitting opposite each other on the stage of the U.N. assembly hall in Geneva.
Mistura will hold meetings with the delegations on Friday to establish a procedure for the talks, he told reporters after the opening session, adding it would be his “dream” to bring them back together for direct talks, but there was work to be done before that could happen.
At the last Geneva talks, 10 months ago, de Mistura had to shuttle between the parties who never met in the same room.
De Mistura told the representatives of President Bashar al-Assad’s government and his opponents that they had a joint responsibility to end a conflict that had killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.
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