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Middle East

Syria talks deadlocked over power transfer

Opposition says government has failed to address "core issue" of President Assad's political future.

Last updated: 27 Jan 2014 19:11
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Syrian peace talks in Geneva have reached a deadlock after a session aimed at tackling contentious political issues, including the possibility of a transitional government.

The UN mediator for the Geneva 2 peace talks, Lakhdar Brahimi, told a news conference on Monday afternoon that little progress had been made on any front, but discussions would continue on Tuesday.

"The humanitarian discussion has not produced much," Brahimi said, noting the Syrian government was still willing to move forward with the evacuation of women and children from Homs, but there was no plan on exactly how this should be done.

On allowing access to a convoy of food and medical supplies, he added, "there is no decision [by the government] to let them in."

Despite the slow progress, Brahimi said "there is still hope," but maintained peace was unlikely to be achieved within days or even weeks. He urged both sides to "think about their people".

Earlier on Monday, sources told Al Jazeera that the opposition delegation had rejected the government's "declaration of principles" for the Geneva 2 talks.

The declaration states that the Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic state based on sovereign rule of law, independence of the judiciary, protecting national unity and cultural diversity. It also says Syrians have the exclusive right to choose their political system away from any imposed framework or foreign intervention.

"The declaration is outside the framework of Geneva, which centres on creating a transitional governing body," the opposition's chief negotiator, Hadi al Bahra, told the Reuters news agency. "It fails to address the core issue."

Asked on Monday afternoon how to deal with the political deadlock, Brahimi noted wryly: "Ideas, I'll take them with great pleasure."

Humanitarian concerns

The Geneva 2 peace talks have so far focused on humanitarian issues, but it was hoped they would move on to the central issues that divide the government and the opposition after nearly three years of civil war: the political future of Syria and of President Bashar al-Assad.

The opposition says Assad must leave power and a transitional government be formed based on an agreement reached during an initial peace conference in Geneva in 2012.

The government says Assad's role is not up for debate at this conference, and denies that the initial Geneva deal requires him to go.

Assad adviser speaks to Al Jazeera from Geneva

"The government officials have been telling us over and over that Assad will not leave power, that he will continue his constitutional term and even has the right to run for president again," said Al Jazeera's Basma Atassi, reporting from Geneva.

"The government may suggest a 'national unity government', an expanded government with opposition figures headed by Assad."

In the first tangible promise to emerge from the talks, Brahimi said on Sunday that the government had agreed to allow women and children safe passage from besieged rebel-held areas of the city of Homs.

But Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi told Al Jazeera nobody should think that the humanitarian deal in Homs was the result of the Geneva talks, noting it was a process planned earlier between the government and the UN and Red Crescent on the ground.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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