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Syria peace talks conclude with no concrete progress

English.news.cn   2014-01-31 20:53:27

GENEVA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Syria peace talks concluded on Friday with no concrete progress, UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said.

Brahinmi told a press conference that this round of Syria talks was a "difficult start" and progress was slow, but the sides "have become used to sitting in the same room" and have "engaged in an acceptable manner."

"This is a modest beginning on which we can build," said the special envoy.

According to Brahimi, the two sides discussed situation on the ground in the war-torn country with the mediation of himself, and the besieged Homs was "extensively disccussed."

He noted that both sides offered their visions over the future Syria and how to achieve the visions through full implementation of the Geneva Communique which was adopted after Geneva I, the first international conference on Syria held in 2012.

"This week we started to disccuss the specific areas of the cessation of violence in all its forms, including the fight against terrorism; and the transitonal governing body exercising all executive powers," said Brahimi, "the gaps between the sides remain wide."

Brahimi suggested the next round of talks resume on Feb. 10, which was agreed by the delegates of the opposition while those of the government side said that they needed to consult with Damascus first.

The UN-backed international conference, dubbed Geneva II, aiming to end a three-year-long conflict in Syria, gathered representatives from both the Syrian government and the opposition for the first time in three years.

After discussing humanitarian issues on the ground, particularly in Homs, representatives of the two parties held discussions within the framework of the Geneva Communique.

Brahimi said that they also discussed the idea of country-wide pause in the fighting. But up to now, no commitment from any of the parties has been heard on the cease-fire issue.

He hoped the two sides to "redouble their efforts to seek early opportunities to reduce the level of violence on the ground."

Brahimi told reporters that he himself observed certain common ground during days of discussions, including that commitment from both sides in discussing the full implementation of the Geneva Communique to achieve a political solution in Syria, and the shared belief that the future of Syria can only be determined by the people of Syria through peaceful means without any direct or indirect external intervention and interference.

"Both sides know that, to implement the Geneva Communique, they must reach agreement on a permanent and comprehensive end to the conflict and on the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, as well as on subsequent steps," according to the points Brahimi said he had shared with the two sides Friday.

The order of discussed issues was a sticking point during the seven-day joint meetings with the mediation of Brahimi, with the government side insisting to take stopping terrorism as top priority, while the opposition focusing on the establishment of a transitional governing body.

Tough words were exchanged between the delegates of two sides when they met with reporters separately in the wake of Brahimi's press conference, mutually accusing one another of being lack of commitment.

Louay al-Safi, spokesperson of the opposition delegation, sticked to their positions that the formation of a transitional governing body was the priority.

"The transitional governing body is the way to proceed to tackle other items on the agenda, " al-Safi repeated to reporters.

Walid al-Moallem, Foreign Minister and head of the delegation of the Syrian government, stressed that they attended the Syria peaceful talks "carrying the concerns and the demands of our people."

"In the forefront of those concerned is the combat against terrorism," said Moallem, insisting that the statement on terrorism was the content of the Geneva Communique.

Moallem declared that the opposition delegates were not representative enough, and said they insisted talking with "largest possible representative groups" for a more "comprehensive" and more "constructive" dialogue.

He did not confirm whether they would come back to engage in next round of talks 10 days later as Brahimi suggested.

"We represent the concerns and interests of our people. If we find that (back to the Syria talks) is a demand and the orientation will be then for us to come back, then we will come back," said Moallem.

Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said later Friday that she was "deeply frustrated and disappointed" that this round of talks failed to arrive at an agreement on humanitarian pauses to bring relief to suffering people in blockaded areas in Syria.

She urged for immediate lift of sieges, ceasefire agreements and immediate and safe entry of convoys.

"As the parties to this brutal conflict continue try to find a way to end the crisis, the humanitarian plight of ordinary Syrian men, women and children must be their number one priority," the UN chief for humanitarian affairs appealed.

The Geneva II kicked off with a ministerial meeting chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Jan. 22 in Montreux, a lakeside city in south-west Swiss. A day later, the conference was continued back in Geneva where the United Nations Office at Geneva is located.

Here the delegates of Syrian government and the opposition shared one negotiating table with the mediation of Brahimi himself, while each side did not concede from their major positions, leaving no agreement achieved after this round of talks.

Brahimi said Wednesday that the situation was exactly he expected, and he hoped the second round "will be more structured and hopefully more productive."


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Editor: Mu Xuequan
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