By Scott Lucas January 30, 2014 07:49 Updated – United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said, after Wednesday’s indirect talks, that he expects no significant outcome from the Geneva II conference on Syria. Brahimi said “the gap between” the Assad and opposition delegations “is quite large”.
He expressed hope that the next round of talks would be more productive. The envoy said a date for the next round will be announced when the current discussions end on Friday.
The opposition had said that it saw progress, with the regime delegation agreeing to consideration of the political transition.
However, the Assad representatives said that they would only consider the Geneva I communique — which the opposition and its foreign supporters say requires the departure of the President — “paragraph by paragraph”.
State news agency SANA put out the regime delegation’s dismissal of a political transition in which President Assad leaves office:
The Syrian official delegation said that it pointed out to the coalition delegation the fact that the latter apparently hasn’t read any part of the Geneva communiqué except the 8th item (on the transition), stressing that there were other items before and after it, and that nothing can be started from the middle.
The Assad representatives maintained, as they have all week, that the priority of the talks must be “terrorism”. The Foreign Ministry reinforced the positions with letters to the UN “on the terrorist acts of the armed terrorist groups and the Saudi involvement in supporting these acts”.
There was little reference on Wednesday to humanitarian issues such as aid to besieged areas of Homs.
Brahimi had said last Saturday that agreement was close on providing the assistance, but a 12-truck convoy has been held up while the UN seeks approval from Damascus.