GENEVA The Syrian opposition said on Thursday that it is keen to move ahead quickly with a six-month U.N. plan for a political transition in Syria, now in its sixth year of war, and hinted that it was running out of patience with Damascus.
Basma Kodmani, speaking after talks between the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) and U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura, said it had presented a memo "on our vision of a transitional period and formation of a transitional governing body".
"We are keen to move quickly, we are very keen to avoid a process that does not deliver," she told reporters in Geneva. "Mr. De Mistura reasserted that it was a six-month timeframe, hopefully less but no more. And that was a reassurance."
Kodmani, asked about government engagement in the process, replied: "Someone at some point, and we hope soon, will need to say there is no partner out there."
The HNC wants to focus on a transitional governing body with full executive powers as outlined in a 2012 Geneva communique. The government has indicated that a "national unity government" with opposition participation was the most on offer, an idea ruled out by the HNC.
De Mistura said his talks with the opposition were intense and productive and confirmed that they had submitted a detailed paper.
"It was very substantive, papers on the political transition were actually distributed and they went very deeply into how they see the political transition being potentially implemented soon," he said.
The U.N. envoy, in a thinly-veiled appeal to the government delegation led by Syria's ambassador Bashar Ja’afari, said: "I hope that I will get similar in-depth clarity from the government. So far it has been more on the formal side, time is going by, we want to go deeply."
The government had already submitted an eight-point paper on principles, de Mistura said, "but what we need to do is to start talking about political transition and what the government as such sees as a possible political transition".
De Mistura said that the distance between the government and opposition remained "large" but they agreed on the need to maintain the country's territorial integrity and rejected a federal system.
Syria's Kurdish-controlled northern regions voted to seek autonomy on Thursday, drawing rebukes from the Damascus government, neighbouring power Turkey and Washington over a move that could complicate U.N.-backed peace talks.
In Geneva, HNC negotiator George Sabra told reporters that the Syrian Kurds' declaration of a federal system was "illegitimate and unacceptable".
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Louise Ireland and Andrew Heavens)
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