News / Middle East

Syria Peace Talks Reach an Impasse

Louay Safi, spokesperson for the Syrian National Coalition, addresses a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Feb. 14, 2014.
Louay Safi, spokesperson for the Syrian National Coalition, addresses a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Feb. 14, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
Five days of peace talks aimed at ending Syria's civil war ended in a bitter impasse on Friday with Syrian government and opposition negotiators trading accusations over who was to blame for the stalemate at the UN-mediated talks in Geneva. 

U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi met separately with the Syrian government and opposition delegations Friday.  When the meetings ended, the two parties held separate news conferences to vent frustrations with each other's negotiating positions.
 
The one issue that both delegations were able to agree upon was that the other party was responsible for the deadlock in the three-week old peace process.

Watch related video by VOA's Jeff Seldin

Syrian Talks Stagger, Progress Remains Elusivei
X
February 14, 2014 10:37 PM
Talks in Geneva aimed at ending Syria's nearly three-year-long civil war appear to be going nowhere, with signs the two countries which pushed for the talks -- the United States and Russia -- may be split over what comes next. VOA's Jeff Seldin reports.

"We have reached a point which we cannot overcome without the presence of another team [Syrian government delegation] who is willing to deal with a peaceful solution," Syrian opposition spokesman Louay Safi told reporters, adding that the five days of negotiations had come to a "dead end'' because of the government delegation's "belligerence.''

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad countered that the opposition came to the talks with an "unrealistic agenda.''

"I think those who do not give a chance for discussion and agreement on combating terrorism are definitely not part of the Syrian people," he said.

Safi told reporters his side had submitted a proposal, which gives a comprehensive view of what it believes should be present in a transitional government for Syria.
 
He said the plan touches on issues regarding a cease-fire, the release of prisoners, humanitarian access and other elements needed to create a political solution for ending the violence.  Unfortunately, he said the government side has not responded to this proposal.
 
"We came to these negotiations with a lot of doubts that we have a negotiating party, that the regime is serious about a political solution," Safi said.  "We put before the regime a proposal for such a solution that addresses the concerns of all Syrians. It is about five pages, 24 separate items and the regime would not even really acknowledge that proposal. And, so, that is quite, quite disappointing."
 
Safi said this is not a deal breaker, adding that his delegation will not withdraw from the negotiations.  But he urged both the United States and Russia, who are the main backers of the Geneva Conference, to put pressure on the Syrian regime to negotiate in good faith.
 
Syrian government position

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad addresses the media after a meeting at the Geneva Conference on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Feb. 14, 2014.Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad addresses the media after a meeting at the Geneva Conference on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Feb. 14, 2014.
x
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad addresses the media after a meeting at the Geneva Conference on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Feb. 14, 2014.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad addresses the media after a meeting at the Geneva Conference on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Feb. 14, 2014.
The government delegation put a different spin on things.  It agreed with the opposition that no progress toward a political solution has been made. But Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, Fayssal Mikdad blamed the Opposition's insistence on talking only about a transitional governing body for the deadlock.
 
"We are ready to discuss everything and we reaffirmed in all the meetings that we have held with you, we reaffirmed that we insist on starting with the ending of violence and the fighting of terrorism," he said. "We are willing to discuss the question of the transitional governing body once we have reached an agreement on fighting terrorism."
 
The two sides have not budged from these positions since the talks started.  The regime  refuses to discuss the transitional process because it would entail the removal from power of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

US, Russia weigh in

The United States,  which supports the rebels, and Russia, which supports the Syrian government, have both criticized the deadlock.

A senior U.S. official said Friday, Syria's government delegation has
been "stonewalling every step of the way'' in Geneva peace talks and Washington expects Russia to pressure them to engage seriously in the peace process.

"We hope and trust that because the Russians believe in a political solution, a diplomatic solution, they will urge the regime to engage in a serious and constructive way,'' the official told Reuters news agency. "The regime hasn't done so yet, that speaks for itself.''

Secretary of State John Kerry said during a visit to Beijing Friday the U.S. is concerned the Geneva talks are not producing the kind of discussion on a transition government that is needed. He said President Barack Obama has asked people in his administration to think about various options for Syria "that may or may not exist."

Brahimi determined to find solution

U.N. mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi normally briefs on the status of the talks, but on this occasion, decided to stay away from the two parties' public airing of grievances.
 
Thursday he told reporters that he sees failure staring him in the face, but insisted that the United Nations will not leave any stone unturned to find a solution to a conflict that has killed more than 130,000 people and displaced 9.5 million others.

Jeff Seldin in Washington contributed to this report, some information provided by Reuters

  • Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai (left), who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education, talks to Syrian refugee Mazoon Rakan, 16, about Mazoon's experience in the camp during her visit to the Zaatri refugee camp, in Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Feb. 18, 2014. 
  • A Kurdish fighter from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) carries his son as he walks along a street, Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014. 
  • A man walks near a crater as smoke rises from a burning truck after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, al-Inzarat district, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014. 
  • Civil defense members and civilians extinguish the fire from a burning truck after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, al-Inzarat district, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • A civil defense worker puts out a fire after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, al-Inzarat district, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014. 
  • Children run across a street to avoid snipers in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria Feb. 16, 2014.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, Feb. 16, 2014. 
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter rests with his weapon in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, Feb. 16, 2014. 
  • A boy holds his baby sister, who survived what activists say was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • Rescuers walk on the rubble of collapsed buildings after what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, Feb. 14, 2014.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
February 15, 2014 12:07 AM
There is no Arab nation on earth that their people are free, no. All those people are suppressed and harassed by their own Government. Even in Russia you people are suffering, every year Mr. Putin will win the election. what kind of mess is that? America didn't start any Arab spring, it started in Tunisia Because the Arab people were suppressed and they said enough is enough. So many time you people of Russia try to revolt against Mr. Putin, and he crashed your. The true of the matter, the Arab people dont like each other. So therefore they dont like anybody. Why you people envy and jealous of America? Your live your life and leave us alone. Why you want to come to our Country? Why do you people get up from your bed 1am to stand on line for American visa? stay in your country. The fact is America is the greatest Country in the world. God Bless America

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
February 14, 2014 10:53 PM
The people of Syria were suppressed by the Assad administration. Assad didn't treat his people right. Even before the war in Syria, Assad was brutal to his own people, that cause the people to fled Syria into exile. Syria is not Assad father farm or property. Let us be clear here, Syria is for the Syrian people.
There are lot of educated Syrian who are capable to run that country and even do better than that of Assad. And if Assad thinks Russia, Iran and including his defeated Army can face America, well sooner or later, he is about to find out.There is no nation on this earth right now as we speak that can defeat America. No Nation.
The world know Hizbollah rebels are fighting along side with Assad army, and still they cannot defeat the free Syrian Army. It is time for Assad to step down and leave.

by: Igor from: Russia
February 14, 2014 10:32 PM
Syrian people lived in peace an harmony for a long time. Then those western nations and some barbarous Arab ones have been instigating religion hatred and killings. And they have turned the beutiful country into a hell by supporting those terrorists to creat the so-called "Spring Revolution". Their purpose is nor democracy for Syria but to overthrow Syrian government and creat one that would be ready to obey their orders.

by: ali baba from: new york
February 14, 2014 8:29 PM
People in Syria were living peacefully for many years. then the rebel which are supporting by Arab rich country started a civil war which resulted for many tragedy . the western country want to end the conflict but they refuse to compromise and keep foreign fighter whom they do not have any business in Syria. they are not the Syrian citizen but they come to Syria to fight and slaughter innocent people especially Christian whom are the real victim of that war. they rape woman and they call it sexual jihad. the western nation has to top giving them arm .the United state stop giving them arm .and listen to their complaint about chemical weapons. the rebel has to leave the country but they enjoy destroying it.

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
February 14, 2014 7:55 PM
Bashar Assad is the key factor to the Syrian people problem. In as much Assad refuses to step,there will be no peace.Assad is a dictator, and it is time that he go. Russia is the key problem to the Syrian people conflict. Russia knows very well that Assad is the problem to the Syrian people, This mad man uses chemical weapon on his own people, and they are still supporting him. It is time that Russia do the right time. We are calling on the UN and the EU to put pressure on the Assad Administration The UN, the EU and America need to come together and make a decision, and do what is in the interest of the Syrian people. and to hell with RUssia.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs