Geneva II: Negotiations moving towards failure
UN holds separate meetings with Syrian government and rebel negotiators. Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem threatens to quit Geneva if opposition does not agree to direct talks. The Syrian National Council announces that it would meet the other party only if it accepts the terms of Geneva I.

Geneva (AsiaNews) - Talks between the Syrian government and rebels are deadlocked even before they start.

On Wednesday, at the beginning of the international peace conference on Syria, the two delegations had agreed with the UN to meet today to discuss with UN and Arab League Special Envoy Lakdhar Brahimi the talks' guidelines.

However, the gap between the Syrian government and the Syrian National Council forced the UN diplomat to organise separate meetings, in which the two parties accused each other.

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem threatened to quit the negotiating table if serious talks with the Syrian National Council did not start by tomorrow. "The Syrian delegation is serious and ready to start (negotiations)," he said, "but the other side is not."

Ahmad Jarba responded to Muallem's provocations by announcing that he would meet government delegates only if they signed a statement endorsing the Geneva I declaration, which calls on Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power.

For her part UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci called on everybody "to be patient".

"You have to understand," she explained, "that the peace process is being shaped [. . .] step by step".