U.N. envoy for Syria apologizes for lack of progress

Saturday, February 15, 2014

UN mediator: Government has refused, which raises suspicion of opposition that gov`t doesn`t want to discuss transition.

UN mediator: Government has refused, which raises suspicion of opposition that gov`t doesn`t want to discuss transition.

GENEVA - U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said Saturday that the Syrian government had rejected a proposal to start a third round of peace talks by focusing on violence and terrorism on the first day, with a second day spent discussing a transitional governing body.

"Unfortunately the government has refused, which raises the suspicion of the opposition that in fact the government doesn`t want to discuss the TGB at all," Brahimi said in a press conference on the last day of the second round of Syria peace talks. He spoke in a U.N. Office in Geneva.

"As you are aware, the government side considers that the most important issue is the issue of terrorism; the opposition side considers that the most important issue is the TGB," Brahimi said, referring to a transitional governing body.

"We suggested right from the beginning that the two sides should reassure one another that their pet subject -- and both are very, very important subjects -- will be discussed," Brahimi said.

Brahimi said he regretted that little had been accomplished in the talks so far, and he offered his condolences to the Syrian people.

"I apologize to them that on these two rounds we haven’t helped them very much," he said.

The United Nations estimates that significantly more than 100,000 people have died in Syria`s civil war, which began in 2011. Millions of people have fled their homes.

Brahimi said he still hoped there would be a third round of talks -- the earlier the better.

He said the agenda had been agreed, and was composed of four points -- violence and terrorism; the transitional governing body, national institutions, and national reconciliation and debate. But agreement on the manner in which these points would be addressed had not been reached, he said.

Brahimi said he had suggested that the first day be reserved for discussion on ending violence and combating terrorism, and the second day be reserved for a discussion of the transitional body -- it being entirely clear, he said, that one day would not be enough to finish the discussion of either of those two topics.

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