01/31/2014, 00.00
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Lakhdar Brahimi: some progress in Syria talks

In a statement, the UN envoy stresses that the two sides have found some common ground. Meetings will resume next month. Despite a desire to end the violence and the suffering of the Syrian people, nothing has been decided yet. Next week, a meeting is scheduled in Rome to discuss UN humanitarian aid in Syria. Both sides reject terrorism and violent extremism.

Geneva (AsiaNews) - UN envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said that the first round of talks ended today. Progress was "very slow" but "a little bit of common ground" emerged.

Peace talks on Syria began in Montreux (Switzerland) on 22 January, with the participation of more than 40 nations, and continued with direct meetings between the Syrian government and the opposition.

After moments of tension, Brahimi noted, the two sides agreed little by little to talk and "listen" to each other "in the same room".

There were no immediate results, especially with regard to the "desperate humanitarian situation" of the population. The UN envoy hopes that some proposals will come out of a conference organised to deal with the emergency situation, scheduled for Rome next week.

Meanwhile, for Brahimi, the two sides seem to have found some common ground.

First of all, they agreed that discussions should be based on the Geneva communiqué, issued after the Geneva I Conference on Syria, which called for an "end to the conflict" and included proposals for a transitional government with full powers committed to national dialogue, constitutional change and elections.

Both sides also recognised the "urgent need to bring the violence to an end", that the conflict has imposed "immense and unacceptable suffering on the Syrian people", that the future of Syria can only be determined by the people of Syria "without any external intervention and interference", that the "sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of Syria needs to be fully respected", that the country's future must reflect "the historical and cultural traditions of Syria's diverse people and its history of harmony and tolerance," that "the Syrian people are longing for a genuinely democratic Syria where governance is transparent and accountable and based on human rights and the rule of law," and that "in no uncertain terms [. . .] they reject violent extremism and terrorism."

This, Lakhdar Brahimi said, "is MY assessment of where I see the parties basically saying the same thing, or almost the same thing".

In any case, both sides agreed to meet again on 10 February. The opposition said yes right away, whilst the government delegation said it had to consult first with Damascus.

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See also
Geneva II: second round of talks ends without results
Geneva II: No 'substantive' result, but Brahimi remains hopeful
Blame game following Geneva II failure, thinking about Iran
Geneva II: government and opposition clash over Bashar al-Assad's fate
As OPCW destroys chemical plants, Assad insists only Syrians can "decide on Syria's future"


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