Syria peace talks mediator says second round 'as laborious' as first

UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative and Geneva II mediator Lakhdar Brahimi reported that delegates from the opposition Syrian Coalition and the Syrian government met for face-to-face talks on Tuesday.
Posted By JC Finley   |   Feb. 11, 2014 at 11:10 AM   |   Comments

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GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative and Geneva II mediator Lakhdar Brahimi provided an update on Tuesday, the first day of direct talks between delegates from the opposition Syrian Coalition and the Syrian government.

Speaking at a press conference, Brahimi described the start of the second round of peace talks "as laborious as it was the first week." Noting that "We are not making much progress," he said that "we all owe it to the Syrian people to move a little bit faster than we are doing."

Brahimi weighed the recent success in getting the Syrian regime to allow the evacuation of 800 Syrians from the embattled city of Homs and to allow necessary aid into the city with the work that remains.

"Six long months, to get a couple of hundred people - no a little bit more than that - about 800 people out, and a little bit of food in. And there are lots of other places that are besieged, where nothing has happened.... So, one appeals really to everyone to make this process a reality and help Syria out of the nightmare its people have been living through for now three years."

During the evacuation and humanitarian aid efforts in Homs, UN and Syrian Red Crescent volunteers were targeted, and 11 killed during the operation. The Homs "success," Brahimi said "was extremely risky."

On Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov and U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will meet with Brahimi for a tri-lateral meeting in Geneva.

On February 7, the Syrian government committed to participating in this second round of negotiations with the Syrian opposition. A day earlier, the Syrian government announced a temporary truce to allow "innocent civilians" to evacuate the embattled city of Homs, and to allow humanitarian aid to enter the city.

The first round of direct Syrian peace talks were held from January 24 to January 31. Despite a "difficult start" and "very slow" progress during the week-long negotiations, Brahimi expressed "hope that we can start to build more common ground when next we meet."

[United Nations]

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