Photo taken on Dec. 11, 2016 shows the mushroom cloud caused by a blast in Aleppo, Syria. (Xinhua/Yang Zhen)
GENEVA, April 1 (Xinhua) -- The fifth and latest round of Syria peace talks ended Friday, with the UN special envoy for Syria lauding the engagement of rival delegations participating in negotiations seeking to broker a political end to the six-year conflict.
"We are in a moment of pushing ahead an agenda. The work that has been done should not be either underestimated or dismissed; they have worked hard with us," Staffan de Mistura told press.
"We see this as progress, preparation for progress," he added.
De Mistura has been shuttling between the Syrian government delegation and the opposition delegation since March 24, in a bid to make each party see eye to eye on a number of thorny issues.
While no breakthrough has been achieved, de Mistura said that invitees touched upon "each or most" of the four baskets, referring to issues of governance, constitution, elections and counter-terrorism.
A series of papers have also been exchanged between the UN and delegations to encourage discussion and debate.
The UN has further produced a series of non-papers drawing upon principles of commonality such as national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and respect for different communities.
De Mistura noted that Syrian invitees appeared to be keen to reconvene in the Swiss city to continue with the political track, and that he is seeking to keep discussions open before negotiations resume.
When this will be remains to be seen, the envoy said that he is will travel to New York next week to consult with the UN secretary-general and the UN Security Council, after which he will indicate when the sixth cycle of talks will kick off.
While maintaining the momentum on the political process is crucial, De Mistura highlighted that the upkeep of a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey last December is also key to avoid the early breakdown of future talks.
Speaking from experience, he reiterated the importance of strategic patience and determination, "especially in a conflict that has lasted six years and which is probably one of the most cruel and complex conflicts we have seen in recent times."
The Syrian conflict is thought to have killed over 310,000 people since it erupted in March 2011, with millions more displaced by intense fighting and reigning insecurity.