Mediator apologises to Syrians

 16 Feb 2014 - 5:03


GENEVA: International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi (Pictured) apologised to the Syrian people for lack of progress at peace talks in Geneva after their second round ended yesterday with little more than an agreement to meet again.
The talks did not even broach the subject of a change of leadership in Syria, and both France and Britain, who back the opposition, blamed President Bashar Al Assad for the impasse.
“I am very, very sorry and I apologise to the Syrian people ... their hopes ... were very, very high here, that something will happen here,” Brahimi told journalists.
An early agreement to evacuate people from the besieged city of Homs had raised false expectations the talks would make greater progress, said Brahimi.
Yesterday’s last session of the second round of the talks was “as laborious as all the meetings we have had, but we agreed on an agenda for the next round when it does take place”, Brahimi added.
Brahimi said the points to be discussed at the next Geneva round included violence and terrorism, a transitional governing body, national institutions and national reconciliation.
However, he added, the Syrian government first wanted to deal with the issue of combating “terrorism” — the word it uses to describe armed opposition to Assad’s rule — and had refused to deal with any other points until that was resolved. The diplomat said both sides would need to reflect on their responsibilities.