March 12, 2014
Mediator admits little progress in Syria talks
Peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition are not making much progress, international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said following a face-to-face meeting of the warring parties in Geneva.
As negotiations intended to end Syria's three-year-old war concluded the second day of this week's session, both sides had no advances to report.
Brahimi, a veteran diplomat charged with running the internationally sponsored talks, said he planned to report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council within the next few weeks.
"The beginning of this week is as laborious as it was in the first week. We are not making much progress," he told a news conference at United Nations headquarters.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said it had been a "lost day" while opposition spokesman Louay Safi said "no progress" had been made.
In an attempt to address the main questions confronting the rival delegations, Brahimi had proposed that they discuss ending the violence today and the formation of a transitional governing body on tomorrow, delegates say.
But the two issues have caused deep rifts and delayed negotiations, which started last month with little result and resumed this week.
A main issue is the role of President Bashar al-Assad in a transitional governing body. The government says it will not discuss his leaving power while the opposition wants him out.
Mekdad said no agenda had been agreed for the talks, blaming the opposition's refusal to discuss the issue of "terrorism" which he says must be covered first. He said the government considers almost all those fighting it in Syria as "terrorists".