UN invites US and allies for Syria talks next month

Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the Information Service of the United Nations Office at Geneva. (Photo courtesy: United Nations)
Updated 28 August 2018
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UN invites US and allies for Syria talks next month

  • “This is going to be an opportunity to discuss the way ahead on the political process,” UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said
  • De Mistura is tasked with forming a committee of Syrian citizens to draw up the new constitution

GENEVA: U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has invited the United States and six other countries for talks in Geneva next month, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Tuesday, as the United Nations continues its push for a new Syrian constitution.
He plans to meet senior representatives from the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany, France and Egypt on Sept. 14, two days after he receives officials from Russia, Turkey and Iran for previously announced talks.
"This is going to be an opportunity to discuss the way ahead on the political process," U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said.
A U.S. State Department official said the United States would be represented by James Jeffrey, the newly minted special representative for Syria, and Joel Rayburn, the administration's special envoy for Syria.
De Mistura is tasked with forming a committee of Syrian citizens to draw up the new constitution, after receiving nominations from the Syrian government and the opposition.
The planned meetings follow a similar set of talks with both groups of countries in June, although Egypt was not involved in that round.
The discussions about setting up a constitutional committee have made slow progress and represent a big downgrade in the United Nations' ambitions for Syrian peace talks.
For two years the warring sides repeatedly came to Geneva, in a futile search for agreement on political reforms, a new constitution and new elections.
But this year, with little U.S. political involvement and major gains on the battlefield by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies, the U.N. political process has largely evaporated.
The U.S. State Department official said the United States would remain engaged with the United Nations and other parties, including Russia, to encourage all possible efforts to advance the political process, and it supported de Mistura's efforts to broker a political settlement.


Egyptian security forces kill 16 suspected militants

Updated 19 February 2019
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Egyptian security forces kill 16 suspected militants

  • Egyptian security forces killed 16 suspected militants in two separate raids in the city of Arish in North Sinai
  • The two sides were involved in exchanges of fire

CAIRO: Egyptian security forces killed 16 suspected militants in two separate raids in the city of Arish in North Sinai, state media said on Tuesday.
The report came the day after an explosion in central Cairo killed three policemen.
Ten suspected militants were killed in the Obeidat district of Arish and another six were killed in the Abu Eita district of the city, state-run Al Ahram said.
An undisclosed quantity of weapons, ammunition and explosives were found with the six in Abu Eita.
The two sides exchanged gunfire, it said without elaborating. It made no mention of any security forces casualties.
The suspected militants’ bodies were taken to several hospitals in the city of Ismailia to be examined and identified, security and medical sources said.
Egypt has been fighting an extremist insurgency since 2013, mostly concentrated in North Sinai.