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UN envoy optimistic over Syria talks in July

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UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES)  -  The UN envoy for Syria said Tuesday he hoped that talks set to begin next week in Astana would help create favorable conditions for the next round of talks scheduled in Geneva, despite rising tensions.

Staffan de Mistura's remarks came a day after the United States announced the regime of Bashar al-Assad was preparing a fresh chemical attack, warning that Damascus would pay a "heavy price" for such an assault.

"The ideal trajectory over the coming two weeks could be... progress in Astana on 4-5 July, then a further set of joint technical aspects meetings with the opposition group in the same week, and then a continued discussion and dialogue hopefully among main international stakeholders including at the G20 summit in Hamburg on 7-8 July," said De Mistura.

"I hope the combination of these elements would help shape an environment conducive for the next round of Inter-Syrian talks in Geneva" in July, he added.

Fresh talks for peace in Syria sponsored by Russia, Iran and Turkey are set to be held in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on July 4 and July 5 before a seventh round of UN-sponsored negotiations on July 10 in Geneva.

During the last talks in Astana in May, Russia and Iran -- allies of Assad -- and Turkey, a supporter of the rebels, adopted a plan that envisaged the creation of secured zones in order to establish a lasting truce in several regions.

The plan had allowed many towns to have return to some degree of normalcy, said De Mistura, even though "in some areas the fight and violence has been continuing and in fact intensified."

The last round of negotiations in Geneva concluded on May 19, without real progress.

Tensions between the various sides in the Syrian conflict, which has claimed more than 320,000 lives in six years, have grown this month -- particularly between the Syrian regime and US-backed forces.

Russia denounced US "threats" against its ally on Tuesday, terming them unacceptable.

Moscow has consistently rejected accusations that Damascus was behind a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria in April.

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Muslim Global: UN envoy optimistic over Syria talks in July
UN envoy optimistic over Syria talks in July
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