By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) - The UN special envoy for Syria has said peace talks will start Monday in Geneva but without a set deadline for outcomes.
Geir Pedersen said at a news conference that the fourth session of the talks focusing on a new constitution will run through Friday and then resume in January.
“I think here, the important thing to say there is no deadline, there is no exact timeline for the discussions,” said Pedersen.
“And that is partly because we know from experiences from other processes that, if you set a timeline, so far, no one has been able to respect that timeline.”
He said that the two co-chairs of the talks had agreed to continue with the same schedule as the previous meeting “discussing so-called national foundations and principles".
Hadi al-Bahra is heading the opposition, while Ahmad Kuzbari is representing the Syrian regime.
“After nearly 10 years of conflict, there is a deep lack of trust between the parties,” said Pedersen.
“We knew that we would have to overcome this deep mistrust. We knew that that would take time. I hope that what we have achieved is actually the beginning of starting to build trust between the parties.”
He said that the building of trust could then be a door to a broader political process.
The special envoy said that for the talks to succeed, they also need international support.
Before they began, he met members of the Syrian regime and the opposition, held talks with Turkish authorities in Ankara, the Arab League secretary-general, and the foreign ministers of Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and held a meeting in Dubai.
Syria has been embroiled in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, over 5 million civilians have become homeless.