01/27/2014, 00.00
SYRIA - UNITED NATIONS
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Geneva II: government and opposition clash over Bashar al-Assad's fate

The government calls on the rebels to respect Syria's sovereignty, proposes democratic elections without foreign influence and an end to terrorism. The opposition rejects direct talks. In Homs, the army will let women and children leave neighborhoods under siege, but no humanitarian convoy has yet entered the city.

Geneva (AsiaNews) - Talks between Syria's government and rebels have stalled in Geneva over the future of Bashar al-Assad after making small progress ​ on prisoners release and the opening of a humanitarian corridor to the old city of Homs.

The opposition rejected a list of points the Syrian government wants to discuss because it failed to mention a transfer of power to a transitional government.

In its proposal, the Syrian government calls on the rebels to respect Syrian sovereignty, hand over territory and abandon all forms of religious extremism. It also calls on foreign nations not to arm terrorists, and refrain from providing them any ideological and material support.

The Syrian government rejects any form of foreign interference, saying that Syrians decide for themselves the future of their country through democratic means.

Sources in the delegation led by Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari stressed that the authorities are willing to discuss every point of its statement; however, Hadi al-Bahra (a delegate from the Syrian National Council, SNC) rejected direct talks.

Before the meeting, the BBC spoke with Jaafari about President Assad's future. "It is too early to talk about," the ambassador said. "This is not the priority. And it is not a part of Geneva I. This is a big, big lie when we speak about President Assad to step down. [. . .] This is a misinterpretation of Geneva I."

Although the Syrian government and the opposition began close-door talks on Saturday in a tense atmosphere, the two sides have continued talking to each, said UN and Arab League Special Envoy Lakdhar Brahimi who is acting as go-between.

So far, no deal has been reached but both sides have agreed on releasing prisoners. Both rebels and government said they would forward a list with the names of people held by their forces.

The two sides discussed the humanitarian crisis in Homs. Brahimi said that Syrian authorities ordered soldiers to evacuate women and children from the city. Other civilians will be allowed to leave but they want their names for security reasons.

Currently, 12 Red Crescent lorries are stationed on the outskirts of the city, still waiting to carry out evacuees.

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