February 25, 2016 / 10:29 AM / 4 years ago

U.N. to announce new round of Syria talks: envoy

A boy carries an opposition flag as rebel fighters and civilians gather during the arrival of an aid convoy of Syrian Arab Red Crescent and United Nation (UN) to the rebel held besieged town of Kafr Batna, on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations will name a date on Friday for Syria’s warring parties to return to the negotiating table for a second round of talks, U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday.

De Mistura abruptly aborted a first round of talks on Feb. 3 and urged countries in the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), led by the United States and Russia, to do more preparatory work.

They met in Munich and pushed for a ceasefire deal, resulting in an agreement on a “cessation of hostilities” that President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the opposition have both said they could support.

De Mistura said he would brief the U.N. Security Council on Friday and then announce a date for a new round of talks.

“I will announce tomorrow when the parties (will reconvene) and the new talks (will happen),” he told reporters. “We will see you, God willing, tomorrow, for a crucial day in what has been now a very momentous follow-up to the Munich meeting.”

De Mistura’s special advisor on humanitarian issues, Jan Egeland, said humanitarian access had improved in the past few weeks and a cessation of hostilities would further bolster the delivery of humanitarian aid.

“I would say we’re very hopeful, we’re very, very hopeful, that things will now be better,” Egeland said.

The ISSG task force on ceasefires will convene for the first time in Geneva on Friday, De Mistura said - an opportunity for diplomats from ISSG countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran to say whether they endorse the U.S.-Russian proposal.

Combatants are required to say whether they will agree to the “cessation of hostilities” in the five-year war by noon on Friday (1000 GMT), and to halt fighting on Saturday.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Catherine Evans

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