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.
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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs