PARIS French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday the next round of United Nations-led peace talks on Syria, scheduled for Feb. 20, could turn out to be "disappointing" because of Syrian government "intransigence".
"It is important that these negotiations are credible, that the parties come in good faith, because we have already had disappointing experiences," Ayrault said at a joint news conference with the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.
"In Geneva last year, the intransigence of the regime made any dialogue impossible."
The UN-sponsored talks had been planned to begin in Geneva on Feb. 8. De Mistura said he delayed the meeting to take advantage of indirect talks between the Syrian government and opposition in the Kazakh capital Astana.
They ended with Moscow, Ankara and Tehran agreeing to monitor government and rebel compliance with a shaky ceasefire.
The U.N. envoy said he hoped that by Sunday the Syrian opposition would produce a full list of representatives which would include "a good balance of those who fight and who give political advice".
Syria's main opposition body said on Feb. 1 it would be "unacceptable" for the United Nations to choose opposition delegates to the next round of peace talks.
"I have said that the resolution 2254 gives a possibility for the special envoy, not to choose, but to finalise the delegation (list), but this is not an option I hope to use," de Mistura said.
(Reporting by Marine Pennetier; writing by Maya Nikolaeva; editing by Andrew Roche)