News / Middle East

At Syria Talks, Ice is 'Breaking Slowly'

A man carries a bag amid damage and debris in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 26, 2014.
A man carries a bag amid damage and debris in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 26, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said the United Nations and the Assad government are still negotiating sending aid convoy to rebel-held city of Homs during comments to the press in Geneva, where peace talks are being held.
 
After Wednesday's sessions, Brahimi said he doesn't expect any substantive achievements by this Friday, when the first round of the talks is scheduled to end.  But he expressed hope for a more productive second round about a week later.

"To be blunt, I do not expect that we will achieve anything substantive. I am very happy that we are still talking, but the ice is breaking slowly, but it is breaking,'' Brahimi said.

He added that gap between the two sides remained "quite large," and said he was hopeful that Russia and the United States would exert greater influence to help bridge that gap.

Brahimi said he hoped the warring factions will be able to narrow their differences in a second round of talks but he said whatever results that might be achieved will likely be minimal.

"But, those people in Syria and those people here for three years have not met once.  they have sat together even once. And, so they do expect that there will be a magic wand that would enable us to resolve everything.  There are a thousand miles to cross and if we take the first step, this will be very good," he said. 

Earlier in the day, the Syrian government and the opposition delegation announced a deal to use a 2012 Geneva communique as a basis for negotiations.

Both sides, on Wednesday, announced their willingness to use the document, although there is disagreement over the next step in talks.

One provision in the communique calls for the creation of a transitional governing body. Negotiators say the opposition wants to start talks by focusing on this provision while the government wants to address it near the end of talks.

The government says it wants to focus on the issue of terrorism first. Still, opposition spokesman Louay Safi said it was a "positive step forward."

Rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insist he must leave power, while the Syrian government has said Mr. Assad's role is not up for debate at the peace conference.

Also Wednesday, Turkish security forces attacked a convoy of al-Qaida-linked rebel vehicles in Syria in retaliation for cross-border fire on Tuesday.

Troops opened fire on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant positions in northern Syria after a mortar shell fired from Syria landed in Turkish territory during clashes between ISIL and the Free Syrian Army.

Al-Qaida and Oil

In another development, Western news organizations say the Syrian government is buying oil and gas from al-Qaida-linked groups that have seized control of some of those resources in Syria.

The news organizations say militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and the al-Nusra Front have used proceeds from oil and gas sales to finance their operations. The news organizations quote unnamed Western officials.

The New York Times on Wednesday said opposition activists in Syria's oil region claimed militant groups were also providing fuel to the government in exchange for relief from air strikes.

Lisa Schlein in Geneva contributed to this report

Images from Syria

  • Smoke rises after what activists describe as barrel bombs are dropped by government forces in Daraya, near Damascus, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds his weapon as he walks along a damaged street in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • A man and children sit around a fire in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Men walk on the rubble of a damaged mosque in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows Syrian men helping a wounded man after a government airstrike in Aleppo, Jan. 29, 2014.
  • A woman stands along a damaged street in the besieged area of Homs, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • A man walks past damaged buildings in the besieged area of Homs, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014.
  • A girl and boy are shaken as they stand near a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Aleppo, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • People walk on rubble of collapsed buildings at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Aleppo, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • A young girl cries at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces, Aleppo, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014. 

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid