First round of Geneva II Syria talks conclude

Despite "very slow" progress, there was some common ground on which to build at the next session of peace talks, expected to begin February 10.
Posted By JC Finley  |  Jan. 31, 2014 at 11:29 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The first round of Geneva II Syria peace talks ended Friday, with plans for a second round to begin February 10.

At the conclusion of the first round of the Geneva II direct talks between delegates from the opposition Syrian Coalition and the Syrian government, UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative and Geneva II mediator Lakhdar Brahimi issued a press statement.

In the statement, Brahimi discussed the week-long mediation process, which he described as "a modest beginning on which we can build."

After a "difficult start" to the talks, Brahimi said both sides became accustomed to sitting in the same room and "the sides have engaged in an acceptable manner."

Despite the "very slow" progress of negotiations, especially concerning the issue of humanitarian aid, Brahimi identified some points of common ground. Chief among them: "Both sides are committed to discussing the full implementation of the Geneva Communique to achieve a political solution in Syria. And they repeated that today." The parties agreed that such implementation requires an agreement concerning the establishment of a Transitional Governing Body.

Other areas of common ground included rejection of violent extremism and terrorism and an understanding that the humanitarian situation "must be addressed rapidly."

Brahimi concluded by expressing his "hope that we can start to build more common ground when next we meet."

In early February, Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos will hold a conference in Rome to "further push" humanitarian relief.

[United Nations]

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