United Nations mediator Lakhdar Brahimi (2nd L) attends a press conference in Geneva, Jan. 24, 2014. Talks for a solution to end conflicts in Syria will continue this weekend, and neither the government delegation nor the opposition is going to withdraw, confirmed the UN mediator here on Friday evening.(Xinhua/Qian Yi)
GENEVA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Talks for a solution to end conflicts in Syria will continue this weekend, and neither the government delegation nor the opposition is going to withdraw, confirmed the United Nations (UN) mediator Lakhdar Brahimi here on Friday evening.
"I met the delegations of the opposition and the government separately yesterday and today, and tomorrow we expect, we have agreed, that we will meet in the same room," he said at a press conference.
"Both parties are going to be here tomorrow. They will be meeting. Then we will decide the following meeting on Sunday. Nobody will be leaving on Saturday and nobody will be leaving on Sunday," he emphasized.
The international conference on Syria kicked off on Wednesday in the Swiss resort Montreux, pulling for the first time representatives from Syrian government and its opposition to sit down to the negotiating table.
According to schedule, they were supposed to start direct talks on Friday. However, a UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci announced in the morning that the process of negotiation "didn't go on as foreseen in the beginning".
Consequently the Joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League met 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) in different.
He told press that they never considered the talks to be easy. "We knew it going to be difficult and complicated," he said, but hailed the discussions so far as "encouraging". "We are looking forward to meeting them tomorrow morning and tomorrow afternoon,"he said."We are using yesterday, today and tomorrow hopefully to make is as smooth as possible."
He announced that the talks will continue until the end of next week, and at some stage, they might have suspensions to allow people to go back.
Brahimi noted that the entire process of peace talks was based on the Geneva Communique. "I think that the two parties understand that very well and accepted. That is the basis of our discussion," he said, adding that there were "some differences on the interpretation of some of its items" of the document and that they need to "clarify ambiguity".
He pointed out that the two parties both "understand what is at stake". "Their country is in very, very bad shape. The situation in Syria is bad and getting worse," he said. "I think the people who are there representing the opposition and the government understand that as I do or better. It is their country after all."
"The huge ambition of this process is to save Syria," he continued. "I hope that all three parties: the government, the opposition and the United Nations would be up to the task."
As for the content of their talks, Brahimi disclosed that they haven't reached core matters yet. At this stage, he thought the focus should be "to make sure that we understand what we are doing". "It will be really practical issues, and hopefully will make later discussions easier," he said. "We hope both parties will give concessions that will be to the benefit of the process".
Friday afternoon, Louay Safi, spokesman from the major opposition bloc Syrian National Coalition 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?"
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.