UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de MisturaReuters

The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, hopes to convene talks between the government of President Bashar Al-Assad and the opposition on January 25 in Geneva, his office said Saturday.

De Mistura has "intensified efforts" towards convening the talks on the target date, hopefully including the "broadest possible spectrum" of opposition representatives, the statement quoted by AFP said.

The special envoy on the nearly five-year conflict "counts on full cooperation of all the relevant Syrian parties in this process," it said, adding, "Continuing developments on the ground should not be allowed to derail it."

Last week, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing a proposed peace plan to bring the regime and opposition together for talks in January. But no specific date had been given.

The plan is the result of nearly two months of strenuous efforts among top diplomats from 17 countries, including regime backers Russia and Iran. But it does not address the toughest sticking point: the fate of Assad.

Syria's Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem, said last week his country was ready to take part in the new talks in Geneva, but conditioned that on certain “terrorist groups” not being allowed to take part.

Syria's government has systematically referred to all its opponents, including non-Islamist groups, as "terrorists".

De Mistura said Saturday he was relying on "the continued crucial support of the International Syria Support Group" (ISSG), which also includes the United States.

The UN resolution enshrines the plan developed by the ISSG countries in a series of meetings in Geneva and Vienna.

"The people of Syria have suffered enough. Their tragedy is now felt throughout the region and beyond," the statement from de Mistura's office said.

"They deserve the full attention and commitment from all their Syrian representatives, who should now show leadership and vision to overcome differences for the sake of Syria."

De Mistura’s previous efforts to stop fighting in Syria have been unsuccessful. He previously angered rebel groups by saying President Bashar Al-Assad  was "part of the solution" to the conflict in Syria. Those rebel groups later refused to a temporary ceasefire over the comments.

AFP contributed to this report.