January 26, 2014
Syria Talks Focus on Prisoners, Aid
Delegates from Syria's government and opposition will meet separately with U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi after negotiations on the release of prisoners, and a proposed aid convoy, failed to produce agreement.
Sunday's early morning talks in Geneva, Switzerland, focused on the release of thousands of prisoners, including women, children and the elderly, from Syrian prisons. The two sides also discussed allowing a humanitarian convoy to reach the besieged city of Homs, which has been under bombardment by government forces for more than a year.
Brahimi has said a decision on the convoy could be made as early as Monday. The opposition accused the government of stalling and says no progress has yet been made.
Brahimi was to hold separate sessions with the two sides later Sunday.
Homs is one of Syria's largest cities and has been pounded by government assaults to reclaim control from rebel forces.
Negotiators from the Syrian government and opposition met for the first time in Geneva Saturday after the process nearly broke down Friday. It was an achievement for mediator Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, just to get the two delegations into the same room.
The official goal of the so-called Geneva 2 talks is to form a Syrian transitional government, though analysts say the chances of achieving this are slim.
Syria's conflict began in March 2011 as peaceful protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad before spiraling into a civil war that the U.N. says has killed well over 100,000 people and forced nearly 9 million from their homes.