Syrian peace talks end with no progress

BY Bridget Bowman  January 31, 2014 at 1:04 PM EDT

The Syrian peace talks in Geneva concluded Friday, with no progress towards a resolution and uncertainty that the sides will come together again to continue talks in a proposed February meeting. While the eight-day negotiations were underway, the civil war in Syria continued and 1,900 people were killed.

Since the war began in 2011, more than seven million Syrians have become refugees, fleeing the conflict for nearby countries. More than 130,000 people have been killed. Tens of thousands go without food and water in rebel-held areas that are under a blockade by the Syrian regime under President Bashar Assad.

Syria’s third largest city, Homs, is one of the areas blockaded by troops loyal to Assad.
Activists called for humanitarian aid for the blockaded citizens while the peace talks took place. UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said in a statement, “I personally appealed for action to address the desperate humanitarian situation in Syria. Homs was extensively discussed, though unfortunately there has been no breakthrough yet.”


Video by PBS NewsHour

Brahimi suggested both sides meet again on Feb. 10 to resume negotiations. While the opposition agreed to the second meeting, the government’s delegation said it would need to consult with Assad before committing to attend.

“The gaps between the sides remain wide; there is no use pretending otherwise,” Brahimi said, stressing the intense divisions between the parties. “Nevertheless, during our discussions, I observed a little bit of common ground — perhaps more than the two sides realize or recognize.”

Though both sides remained at a stalemate during the heated negotiations, he outlined ten points where he believed the opposition and the Syrian government agreed, including the need to end the conflict, establish a transitional government, and a belief that “the future of Syria can only be determined by the people of Syria, men and women, through peaceful means, without any external intervention and interference.”

“The opposition is demanding a transitional governing body with full executive powers and wants Assad to step down,”AP reported. “The government delegation says that’s a nonstarter and has insisted the talks focus first on ending the violence.”