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Executive Summary for June 25th

We review the latest issues related to peace and security, including leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties meeting, Eritrea saying it will send a delegation to Ethiopia for peace talks, and the U.N. citing progress on Syria’s new constitutional committee.

Published on June 25, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Leaders of South Sudan’s Warring Parties Meet for First Time in Two Years

The leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties met for peace talks on June 20 for the first time since 2016, the New York Times reported.

The meeting between South Sudan’s president and the former vice president – who now leads the country’s main opposition forces – was held in the Ethiopian capital.

The talks, however, did not result in a conclusion on a potential peace deal to end the country’s civil conflict, which has now lasted more than four years.

“For any meaningful dialogue to take place, it should be within the context of a comprehensive political settlement, so that the guns can fall silent and a conducive environment for dialogue established,” said a statement released by the opposition’s spokesman following the meeting.

Meanwhile, a South Sudanese government official said on Thursday that “President Salva Kiir is not ready in any way to work again with Riek Machar in the next transitional period,” according to Reuters.

Wednesday’s meeting came weeks after the United Nations Security Council gave South Sudan’s warring parties a deadline of June 30 to reach a peace deal or face sanctions.

In Rare Move, Eritrea Says It Will Send Delegation to Ethiopia for Peace Talks

Eritrea announced on June 20 it will be sending a delegation to Ethiopia for peace talks, in the first such move since a border war erupted between the two countries in 1998, the Associated Press reported.

The announcement by Eritrea’s president, Isaias Afwerki, came after Ethiopia’s new prime minister announced earlier this month that his country will fully accept the terms of a peace agreement with Eritrea signed in 2000 to end the two-year border war that has killed as many as 10,000 people.

Though the conflict technically came to an end in 2002, with a “final and binding” ruling handed down by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, Ethiopia had not taken steps to implement it.

Afwerki on Wednesday noted “positive signals” from Ethiopia and said the delegation will “gauge current developments directly and in depth” to plan future steps toward peace, according to the AP.

Eritrea’s ambassador to Kenya described the move as a “new chapter of peace and reconciliation between the Eritrean and Ethiopian people.”

U.N. Syria Envoy Cites Progress in Talks on New Constitutional Committee

The U.N. Syria envoy said on June 19 that Iran, Russia and Turkey are beginning to reach common ground on how Syria’s constitutional committee will be set up and function, Reuters reported.

In a statement released after representatives of the three states met in Geneva, Staffan de Mistura said that “constructive exchanges and substantive discussions took place” during the meeting “on issues relevant to the establishment and functioning of a constitutional committee, and some common ground is beginning to emerge.”

Tuesday’s meeting came months after de Mistura was tasked with setting up a committee comprising members of the government, opposition and civil society to draft a new Syrian constitution.

The Syrian government has already submitted a list of nominees, but the Syrian opposition is waiting for clarifications before it proposes candidates.

“We are asking many questions about the formation, functions, terms of reference of this committee. Who will be accredited to participate? Is it going to be part of the transitional process? That is why there is a delay in the presentation of the list of names that should be part of it on behalf of the opposition,” Yahya al-Aridi, spokesperson for the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC), told Al Jazeera last week.

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