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UN mediator to talk with Syrian gov't, opposition separately

English.news.cn   2014-01-25 00:10:09

GENEVA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will meet delegations from the Syrian government and the opposition separately on Friday, a UN spokeswoman has confirmed.

Alessandra Vellucci from the UN office in Geneva told the media that Brahimi, the UN-Arab League joint special representative for Syria, will meet the Syrian government delegation led by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem at 11 a.m. local time (1000 GMT), and talk with the opposition at 4 p.m. (1500 GMT).

"As Mr. Brahimi has announced in Montreux, the process of negotiation didn't go on as foreseen in the beginning," she said, adding the mediator might need a few weeks to prepare for direct talks between the conflicting sides in Geneva.

The international conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva II, kicked off Wednesday in the lakeside Swiss city of Montreux, and formal peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition is slated for Friday in Geneva.

The spokeswoman didn't disclose who should be responsible for the change of schedule. "There have been changes and there will be changes," she said. "For the moment, we are going step by step."

Brahimi met the heads of the two Syrian delegations Thursday afternoon: first Ahmed Jarba, from the opposition Syrian National Coalition, followed by al-Moallem. But there is no immediate report on what was discussed.

The UN-backed Geneva II aims to end the three-year-long conflict in Syria, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives acoording to the UN. It has brought the bitter rivals together at the negotiating table for the first time.

However, the ministerial meeting in Montreux saw the two sides clash, dampening hopes for a breakthrough in the issue. A focus of the crossfire is the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Moallem said upon his arrival in Geneva Tuesday evening that subjects related to the status of the president were "red-lines" and could not be touched. He stressed that anti-terrorism should top the agenda.

At the ministerial meeting on Tuesday, he spoke about atrocities committed by extremists. He told officials from nearly 40 countries that terrorists had ripped Syria apart and accusing them of trying to fan tension in the nation under the cover of revolution.

However, Jarba told reporters Thursday he was looking to a future without al-Assad. SNC had once held it as a precondition to attending the talks.

Later in the day, SNC spokesman Louay Safi accused the government of a lack of goodwill and attempting to run away from political solution.

"They have not committed to the communique until this point. That's why we are waiting until they commit, and then we can talk face-to-face," he said. "How would you negotiate with someone when there is no common ground, no foundation for negotiations?"

He told reporters that Brahimi would "talk to the regime to give their commitment to the framework first."

"Then he will meet us this afternoon to tell us their position," he added.

There are currently no comments from the Syrian government side, but Syrian state television reported al-Moallem told Brahimi that "should serious sessions fail to take place tomorrow, the official Syrian delegation will leave Geneva."

"The Syrian delegation is serious and ready to start (negotiations), but the other side is not," he was quoted as saying.

Diplomats noted the key was to ensure both sides continue talking.

The Syrian government hoped to reach an agreement with the opposition, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi told Xinhua.

Editor: yan
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