GENEVA, January 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Another day of talks on peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis has begun in Geneva on Monday. As UN press service told Itar-Tass, Syria’s governmental and opposition delegations arrived to the Palace of Nations, headquarters of the global organization’s European branch, and gathered around one conference table with United Nations/League of Arab States Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.
On Monday, aside from humanitarian issues, political matters may be discussed. Earlier, representatives of Syria’s National coalition of opposition and revolutionary forces stated that “the real negotiations”, in their opinion, would start precisely on Monday. By this, the oppositionists understand the discussion of the “interim government” issue, namely a governing body where, as the coalition insists, there would be no place for current Syrian President Bashar Assad, as well as for his approximates.
Meanwhile, the governmental delegation says it is ready to discuss “any issues”, but warns that Assad’s future may be decided only by the Syrian people through elections.
Sunday, January 26, it was announced in Geneva that on Monday, women and children may be evacuated from Syrian city of Homs that became a many-month battleground. Arrival of the first in recent months convoy with humanitarian aid is also expected, although local authorities have not given their consent yet.
The parties will continue discussing the issue of exchange of war prisoners and kidnapped people. The opposition handed to the government a list with names of 1,300 children and 1,000 women, which Damascus “should release immediately”. The official Syrian delegation, in its turn, asked the opposition to provide a list of people imprisoned by the rebels.
The inter-Syrian talks take place within the framework of the Geneva II international peace conference that started January 22 in Switzerland. Lakhdar Brahimi admitted that the discussions are slowly edging. However, he sees an advantage in it: “Sometimes it’s better to proceed slowly rather than quickly. When you run, you may win an hour, but lose a week.”The governmental delegation at the negotiations is led by Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Jaafari. The opposition’s delegation is headed by National Coalition’s political bureau member Hadi Al Bahra.
During the second session, which is scheduled for 16:00 local time (15:00 GMT), the delegations will have separate meetings with Lakhdar Brahimi. This format of interacting will likely remain until the end of the current round of meetings, namely until the end of the week. Then, the teams are expected to leave Geneva for several days for consultations.