UN fails to break Syria talks deadlock

January 29, 2014 - 5:08:24 am

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad speaks to members of the media at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday.

GENEVA: The UN failed to break a deadlock at Syrian peace talks in Geneva yesterday, with negotiations interrupted after President Bashar Al Assad’s regime pushed for a statement condemning the United States.

After announcing the start of a fourth day of talks with a morning session around 11am (1000 GMT), the UN said in a terse statement later that “no meeting has been planned for this afternoon”.

A member of the opposition negotiating team, Rima Fleihan, said that UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi had adjourned the meeting “because the regime is not cooperating on any subject, not on humanitarian issues and not on a transitional governing body.”

She said the opposition had presented a preliminary transition plan laying out its “vision” for Syria, but the regime refused to engage in talks.

“We have a vision, unfortunately the regime presented nothing and refused all discussion,” Fleihan said, adding that the next session was planned for today morning.

Last morning’s session saw regime delegates present a statement condemning Washington, which it wanted adopted by participants.

The statement said “the United States has made a decision to resume arming terrorist groups in Syria.”

“This decision can only be understood as a direct attempt to obstruct any political solution in Syria through dialogue,” it said.

It follows a report from the Reuters news agency that the US Congress secretly approved funding for weapons deliveries to “moderate” Syrian rebel factions.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad said that showed Washington “is not interested in the success” of the peace process.

He accused the opposition of obstructing talks by refusing to adopt the regime statement.

“The other party said they don’t agree... and that they support the United States’ steps to arm terrorist groups,” he said.

Delegates from the regime and the opposition National Coalition have been brought together in the biggest diplomatic push yet to end a civil war that has left more than 130,000 dead and forced millions from their homes. The talks hit an impasse on Monday when discussions started on political issues, including the transfer of power to a transitional government.

Brahimi had said yesterday’s talks would focus on the Geneva communique, the text agreed by world powers in 2012 that calls for the creation of a transitional governing body in Syria.

He said he also hoped for concrete steps on humanitarian aid, especially for besieged and starving families in rebel-held areas in the central city of Homs.

Brahimi admitted on Monday that the talks so far “haven’t produced much”, but said just getting the two sides to sit in the same room was a step forward.AFP

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