01/28/2014, 00.00
SYRIA - UNITED NATIONS
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Geneva II: despite differences, the opposition and the Syrian regime continue to meet

The delegates address again the issue of prisoners and the opening of a humanitarian corridor to Homs. The 2012 Geneva I communiqué agreed by the UN and the international community still sets the agenda. Divisions persist over the fate of Bashar al-Assad and the possibility of a transitional government.

Geneva (AsiaNews/Agencies) - On the fourth day of meetings, the Syrian government and the opposition continue their talks despite disagreements over the fate of Bashar al-Assad.

Through mediator Brahimi Lakdhar, delegates discussed the possibility of a transitional government and the possibility of allowing humanitarian aid into rebel-held areas.

In his daily press conference, the UN and the Arab League Special Envoy on Syria said that talks would focus on the Geneva I communiqué. He added that he hoped for concrete steps on humanitarian aid, especially for besieged and starving families in rebel-held areas in the central city of Homs.

By Brahimi's own admission however, talks so far "haven't produced much", but he noted that just getting the two sides to sit in the same room was a step forward.

The meetings, which began on Saturday, have focused so far on humanitarian issues, namely help for the civilian population and a prisoner exchange.

The most urgent issue is the situation in Homs, where the army has laid siege to the Old City since June 2012. For almost a year, more than 500 families have lived close to starvation. And daily shelling has turned much the area into a mountain of rubbles.

On 26 January, the government said it would let convoys from the International Red Crescent/Red Cross (IRC) society into the city under United Nations supervision.

However, the IRC Central Committee said its people have been on standby for days waiting for the military to let them into the city.

A prisoner exchange is still under discussion. The opposition has a preliminary list of 47,000 people held by the government, including 2,300 women and children.

The government has demanded a list of the people in rebel hands, calling for their immediate release. They include clerics like Orthodox bishops Boulos Yazigi and Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim, who disappeared in March 2013, and 13 nuns abducted in Maaloula in December 2013.

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