UN mediator says doesn’t expect ‘anything substantive’ from Syria talks

UN mediator says doesn’t expect ‘anything substantive’ from Syria talks

PanARMENIAN.Net - UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has said he does not expect to achieve "anything substantive" in the first round of Syria talks before they end on Friday, Jan 31, according to BBC News.

He said he was "not disappointed" and that "the ice is breaking slowly". He also said that the UN and Syrian government were still negotiating on access for a humanitarian aid convoy into the besieged city of Homs.

The idea of a transition process has proved to be a major sticking point at the peace talks in Geneva.

Brahimi told reporters that the gap between the two sides remained "quite large" but there was a willingness to continue the talks.

He voiced hope that Russia and the U.S. would exert greater influence over the two sides to help bridge that gap. A timeframe for the second phase of the talks would be decided on Friday, he said.

The UN-Arab League mediator said he hoped the second session would "be more structured and hopefully more productive".

Following the talks on Wednesday morning, Syrian presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said they would discuss the Geneva Communique "paragraph by paragraph".

She said the first issue the government wanted to discuss was the first issue in the document, "stopping terrorism" and claimed that the opposition's aim "to jump to the item that speaks about transitional government" proved they "are only interested in being in government".

Louay al-Safi, a spokesman for the opposition National Coalition, said the fact that the document was now on the table was "a positive step forward".

"For the first time now we are talking about the transitional governing body, the body whose responsibility is to end dictatorship and move toward democracy and end the fighting and misery in Syria," he told reporters.

However, he stressed again the opposition view that the transfer of power issue must "come first, because nothing else can be achieved before we form a transitional governing body".

In a separate development on Wednesday, the UN welcomed the UK's decision to take in hundreds of the "most vulnerable" refugees from Syria.

The British government had previously been reluctant to accept Syrian refugees, preferring to focus on humanitarian aid to the region, but it was facing a parliamentary defeat on the issue.

More than 100,000 people have died and another 9.5 million have been displaced since the uprising against President Assad began in 2011.

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