News / Middle East

    No Breakthrough in Syria Talks, Brahimi Says

    Syria Talks to Avoid Contentious Issuesi
    X
    January 28, 2014 7:24 AM
    United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says Syria peace talks will continue in Geneva Tuesday, but the contentious issue of creating a transitional government will be put aside in order to focus on topics of possible agreement.
    Syria Talks to Avoid Contentious Issues
    Lisa Schlein
    International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said Syrian government and opposition delegates will begin tackling the thorny issue of a possible transitional government when the Syrian peace talks resume on Tuesday.

    Brahimi, addressing a news conference in Geneva after meeting both sides, said that there was an apparent will to continue the negotiations to end the nearly three-year war.

    Still, the Syrian government and opposition remain deeply divided on all issues.

    Earlier in the day, opposition spokesman Munther Akbeik said his delegation had come to talk about a transfer of power and a new interim government but that President Bashar al-Assad's delegation refused to discuss the subjects.

    He said Brahimi and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the opposition that the goal of the conference was to discuss a political transition in Syria but that the Assad government was ignoring the agenda, as set forth in the invitation to attend.

    Syrian government media advisor Boutheina Sha'aban told the press, however, that it would be impossible to broker any agreement unless the opposition discussed the subject of foreign fighters in Syria and terrorism.
    “There are 83 countries which are sending foreign fighters to Syria. What we are saying-and that's what the Geneva I conference said-is 'let us stop the fighting, stop the terrorism and launch a political process where Syrians decide the future of Syria," he stated.

    The possible future role of Assad.is a topic to be discussed within the framework of the Geneva 1 Declaration. The declaration calls for the formation of a transitional government. 

    The Western-backed opposition group said that Assad has lost all legitimacy and should not be included in any furture government.  The Syrian government rejects any attempts to remove Assad.
     
    Brahimi said he does not know how to bridge this gap.  He said the best he can hope for is to get the two opposing factions to start the debate on the transitional process when they resume discussions Tuesday.
     
    “Then we are going to decide with them how we are going to proceed in discussing its many elements," he said. "One of them is, of course, the composition of the governing body with full executive powers. But we will definitely not start with that.  It is probably the most complicated subject.” 
     
    Little progress 

    After four days of negotiations, Brahimi acknowledged little progress has been made toward finding a solution to the conflict which has gone on for nearly three years with tremendous loss of life.
     
    He said the peace talks mainly have been dealing with confidence building measures aimed at developing a better atmosphere between the two parties.  But these, he said, have made no headway.  

    Brahimi said thatt the Syrian parties were still discussing how women and children can leave the beseiged city of Homs, but that there had been no decision on allowing access for an aid convoy.

    “There was an agreement by the government that women and children can come out of the old city in Homs," he said. "I think they are still discussing how that should be done.  I think the government is willing to make that happen.

    "But it is not easy because there are snipers and there are all sorts of problems," he said. "The convoy of food and non-food items and medical supplies—there is no decision yet to let them in.” 
     
    Homs is not the only city in Syria that is under siege.

    Brahimi said women, children and men are suffering from lack of food, medical care and other essential supplies in other areas under the control of the government or rebels.  He said he is asking the two parties to open up these areas so aid can get to the people in need.

    Riad Kahwaji, who heads the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said Western powers appear to be focusing on the aid issue as the only area where agreement can be reached.

    “Geneva II is just another symbolic gesture by the international community to show they are doing something to help salvage the situation in Syria. Unfortunately, we are still lacking any genuine moves to pressure both sides on the ground to make concessions to bring about tangible results,” said Kahwaji.

    State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez criticized the Syrian government for refusing to allow an aid convoy into Homs, insisting that the “situation (there) is desperate and people are starving.” He called the government's offer to evacuate the city a “despicable policy” of “kneel or starve.”

    VOA's Edward Yeranian contributed to this report from Cairo.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Nicholas Akuamoah-Boateng from: Kumasi-Ghana
    January 28, 2014 12:43 AM
    There shouldn't be a breakthrough except the murderers (Assad &co) accept resignation and prosecution.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.