Syria rivals declare impasse in peace talks

Government and opposition delegates say negotiations are deadlocked, as Russia and US trade blame for talks' failure.

    A second round of Syria peace talks in Geneva has made no progress, Syria rival delegates said, as the United States and Russia traded blame for the talks' failure to take off.

    "We deeply regret that this round did not make any progress," Faisal Maqdad, the Syrian deputy foreign minister, told reporters on Friday.

    Speaking separately just minutes earlier, opposition spokesman Louay Safi complained about the other side's failure to budge.

    "The negotiations have reached an impasse," Safi said.

    Safi urged all parties, particularly the government's ally Russia, to exert pressure on the government to break the deadlock.

    The Syrian rivals have failed to agree what should come top of the agenda of the talks.

    The opposition insists negotiations must centre on Syria's political transition from one-party rule under President Bashar al-Assad.

    The government delegation says halting "terrorism" should be the priority, and rules out talks on transition while the violence rages.

    Air strikes and clashes between rebels and government troops have continued unabated since the first round of talks in January, with daily death tolls over 200, according to activists. 

    Blame trade

    As the talks neared their end in Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the US of using the talks for the sole purpose of "regime change", while US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested Moscow was backtracking on earlier commitments.

    "The only thing they want to talk about is the establishment of a transitional governing body," the Associated Press quoted Lavrov as saying.

    "Only after that are they ready to discuss the urgent and most pressing problems, like terrorism," he added, speaking after meeting the German foreign minister in Moscow.

    Kerry said in Beijing that agreeing on a transition government was the sole purpose of the talks in Geneva. He said Lavrov had stood up beside him several times when Kerry has said that was the purpose.

    "There is no question about what this is about and any efforts to try to be revisionist or walk back or step away from that frankly is not keeping work or keeping faith with the words that have been spoken and the intent of this conference," Kerry said.

    The talks aim to end the conflict which has killed more than 130,000 people and displaced millions in three years.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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