DAMASCUS, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Syria's warring sides meeting in Geneva have failed to make any headway in their bid to rid the country of its three-year-old nightmare.
Common grounds never emerged in the first round of the Geneva II conference which began on Jan. 22 and is due to end on Friday. The talks, mediated by the international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, were marred with confrontational tones. A second round will be prepared soon.
Since the beginning, Syria's official delegation has tried to put forward initiatives on building common grounds with their counterpart from the oppositional Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the main opposition umbrella in exile.
On Monday, the government delegation put forward a communique, calling for respect for Syria's sovereignty and rejection of foreign interference. The communique also underscored Syrian people's rights to decide on their country's future through democratic methods, and stressed Syrians alone have the right to choose their political system away from any imposed formula.
But the SNC has reportedly rejected it because they see it as a bid to preserve President Bashar al-Assad.
On Thursday, the government delegation proposed another communique, urging the opposition to denounce rampant terrorism in Syria, but was again rejected by the SNC, according to the official SANA news agency.
The tensions mirror the state of mistrust between the two parties.
Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi, a member of the official delegation to the meeting, said the SNC's rejection of the new statement is completely "scandalous and shocking."
For its part, the opposition coalition demanded from the very beginning the establishment of a transitional government in Syria with full executives, based on the communique adopted at a previous conference in Geneva in 2012. They said Assad must have no role in the transitional government.
However, the government team said it is not going to hand over power to the coalition, but only to negotiate a political solution. It said Assad's departure is a "red line."
The SNC delegation, while discussing the humanitarian issue, demanded the government break the siege of the Syrian army in the rebel-held old city of Homs and allow in aid for the trapped people. Damascus said civilians were free to leave, pledging to secure them with shelters and medical help, but rejecting aid as it could end up in the hands of rebels.
Back in Syria, governor of Homs province, Talal Barazi, told Xinhua Wednesday that authorities were prepared to evacuate trapped civilians in Homs' old quarters held by rebels, denying aid convoys were to enter the area.
The governor stressed the government would by no means agree to deliver aid for fear of it ending up in the hands of rebels, noting the rebels could take advantage of a recent pardon and surrender themselves.
"We distinguish civilians and armed men," the governor told Xinhua. "We will not give supplies to armed men ... after the Syrian forces succeeded in ... trapping them inside."
Mohammad Dandal, a member of the SNC, on Thursday accused the Syrian government of not being serious in the negotiation, while the official delegation put the same blame on the SNC.
Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, said Wednesday the gaps between the two parties were huge at Geneva II, and he did not expect any substantive results from the ongoing talks.
In an atmosphere thick with tension, scathing criticism and tit-for-tat statements, both sides will wrap up the first round of talks amid reports that broader segments of the opposition are going to be represented in upcoming talks as the SNC delegation is the sole representative of the opposition in recent talks.
Brahimi expect no substantive results from ongoing Syria talks
GENEVA, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi Wednesday said that the gaps between the two parties were huge, and he did not expect to achieve substantive results from the ongoing Syria peaceful talks.
Brahimi told a press conference after today's meetings that the fifth day of joint meetings between delegations of Syria government and the opposition involved tentative discussions on transitional governing body. Full story
Syrian opposition NCB says Geneva II represents shift toward political solution to crisis
DAMASCUS, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Syria's domestically-based opposition group National Coordination Body (NCB) said Wednesday that the convening of the Geneva II peace conference represents a shift for Syria's long-running conflict toward a political solution.
"Holding the Geneva II conference based on international consensus is an indication of shift from the use of force and violence to a political process," Hasan Abdul-Azim, head of the NCB, said at a press conference in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Full story