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SYRIA

Syria peace talks end with little progress

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-01

A week of talks in Geneva aimed at ending the civil war in Syria on Friday wrapped up without the warring sides coming to any agreement on how to end the bloodshed and the Syrian regime unable to commit to a date for a new round of negotiations.

The talks, which were the first direct ones in three years between Syria’s opposition the National Coalition and President Bashar al-Assad’s government, failed to produce any tangible results. Neither side budged from their main positions and blamed each other for the violence that has so far killed more than 130,000 people.

While the opposition wanted to focus on a transitional administration that would essentially remove Assad from power, the government wanted to talk about fighting "terrorism" — a word it uses to refer to all its armed foes.

The talks also failed to achieve any concrete results on possible humanitarian aid convoys to besieged parts of Homs.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that in the nine days that had passed between the start of the conference through to Thursday night, 1,870 people were killed in Syria.

While UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi's said the opposition had committed to joining a second round of talks in Geneva on February 10, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that the government will have to report back to Damascus before deciding when to return to Geneva to meet the opposition again.

'Modest beginning'

At the end of the eighth day, Brahimi tried to give a positive spin to the discussions, telling reporters that although the talks produced no tangible results, he found 10 areas of possible “common ground.”

“Progress is very slow indeed, but the sides have engaged in an acceptable manner. This is a modest beginning on which we can build,” he said.

“The gaps between the sides remain wide; there is no use pretending otherwise. Nevertheless, during our discussions, I observed a little bit of common ground - perhaps more than the two sides realize or recognize,” he said. “Things have gone so far down that they are not going to get out of the ditch overnight.”

Opposition chief Ahmad al-Jarba said his side was committed to more talks and insisted the only way to guarantee peace was to set up a transitional ruling council with full executive powers to run the country.

“What we passed through in Geneva was like a political battle in front of representatives of a regime that is an expert of wasting time. The process was not easy and for us it was like drinking poison,” he told reporters. “A new Syrian republic is being born in Geneva, even if we did not sign a political agreement.”

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)

 

Date created : 2014-01-31

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