Europe

Sights set for modest achievements in Syria talks

  • Syria's main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) leader Nasr al-Hariri, informs the media after the round of negotiation  with  the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura  at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    Syria's main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) leader Nasr al-Hariri, informs the media after the round of negotiation with the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -This file image posted online on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, purports to show a general view of the ancient ruins of the city of Palmyra, in Homs province, Syria, with the Citadel of Palmyra in the background. Syrian state media said on Thursday, March 2, 2017 that military forces have entered Palmyra in the quest to again take the town from the Islamic State group. Palmyra, home to some of the world's most prized Roman ruins, was seized again by IS in December. (Amaq News Agency via AP, File)

    FILE -This file image posted online on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, purports to show a general view of the ancient ruins of the city of Palmyra, in Homs province, Syria, with the Citadel of Palmyra in the background. Syrian state media said on Thursday, March 2, 2017 that military forces have entered Palmyra in the quest to again take the town from the Islamic State group. Palmyra, home to some of the world's most prized Roman ruins, was seized again by IS in December. (Amaq News Agency via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, March 1, 2017 frame grab from video provided by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, Syrian forces prepare to fire on an Islamic State group's position, at the ancient city of Palmyra in the central city of Homs, Syria. Syrian state media says government forces have reached the edge of Palmyra and are poised to reclaim the historic town from the Islamic State group. Arabic reads, "Central Military Media, Homs, Syria." (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

    In this Wednesday, March 1, 2017 frame grab from video provided by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, Syrian forces prepare to fire on an Islamic State group's position, at the ancient city of Palmyra in the central city of Homs, Syria. Syrian state media says government forces have reached the edge of Palmyra and are poised to reclaim the historic town from the Islamic State group. Arabic reads, "Central Military Media, Homs, Syria." (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The United Nations envoy to Syria is working round the clock in a bid to secure a modest victory in the fourth round of talks held in Geneva.

Staffan de Mistura is due for another round of meetings Thursday marking a week of bilateral talks with the government delegation and opposition groups.

A top Syrian opposition negotiator told journalists overnight Wednesday the "envoy is really keen to start a political process on the basis of a clear agenda."

Nasr al-Hariri said the talks would likely culminate in a closing ceremony Friday and the parties may be back in Geneva for further discussions in a few weeks.

Setting the agenda and strategy to guide discussions has proven difficult as the main conflicting parties dig in their heels over form and semantics.