GENEVA, Feb 16 — “I’m very, very sorry,” UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters in Geneva as he announced the break-off in peace talks in Geneva with no progress made and no date set for a third round.
Just weeks after the warring parties sat down for the first time to seek a political settlement to the three-year conflict, a second round ended in acrimony.
“I think it is better that every side goes back and reflects, and takes their responsibility: do they want this process to continue or not?”
During a press conference held in the wake of the Saturday’s last session, Brahimi said an agenda for the next round of “when it does take place” was, however, accepted by delegates of the Syrian government and the opposition.
Bashar Ja’afari, head of the Syrian side, said his delegation accepted the agenda, but the problem was raised when the opposition “gave their own interpretation of the agenda by saying that there is no need to fully finalize the first item” (the stopping of violence and terrorism in conflict-torn Syria).
“We promise to our people to come back to Geneva, and to continue Geneva talks as long as it takes,” said the senior Syrian official, reiterating their commitment “to stopping bloodshed” and “combating terrorism”.
Louay al-Safi, a spokesperson for the opposition delegation, said that there were no “positive” results of the talks. He accused the other side of having “focused on one track” and of trying “to divert us from the main issues”.
Mentioning about the four-point agenda for the next round, Brahimi said it included fighting violence and terrorism, the transitional governing body, national institutions, and as well as national reconciliation and national debate.
The special envoy suggested during the new round, the first day would be reserved for discussions over fighting against violence and terrorism and second day to be about the transitional governing body. But Brahimi noted that the specific negotiating time-length devoted to respective item remained a sticking point.
The Syrian government delegation accepted the agenda, he said, but it refused the suggested time-length of discussions on stopping the violence and terrorism while insisting on moving to the second item only when the first was finished.
This position “raises the suspicion of the opposition that the government did not want to discuss the transitional governing body”, Brahimi said, adding that he hoped each side “goes back and reflect and take their responsibility”.
“I very, very much hope that the two sides will reflect and think a little bit better and come back ready to engage seriously on how to implement the Geneva Communique,” Brahimi said.
“The Geneva Communique is not an end in itself and The Geneva Communique helps the two sides, and us sitting between them, to start the long road towards ending this crisis.”
Brahimi also noted the need to hold discussions with Russia and the US, the two initiating nations for the Geneva II conference.
As for the possible third round of peace talks with no date set yet, the mediator said that he hoped there will be one, the earlier the better.–Agencies