GENEVA, January 29, (ITAR-TASS). The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he had expected no results from the first round of Syria talks.
He spoke of “quite large” gaps in the positions of the sides and said he did not “expect that we will achieve anything substantive.”
“I am very happy that we are still talking, but the ice is breaking slowly, but it is breaking," Brahimi said at a news conference after meeting Wednesday’s between the government and opposition negotiators, who had started discussing a transitional governing body for Syria.
He said the sides would continue the talks in Geneva until January 31 and then would resume them most likely a week later.
Brahimi expressed confidence that Russia and the United States would exert more influence on both sides.
Russian and American experts agreed at their meeting in Geneva January 29 to put pressure on the Syrian sides to prod them into reaching a compromise, an informed diplomatic source told ITAR-TASS.
“The participants agreed to put pressure on the Syrian sides to make them move towards a compromise,” the source said. “Discussed were political and humanitarian issues as well as questions concerning the second round of inter-Syrian talks to begin after January 31.”
“When the Syrian delegations go to the consultations, they should have a homework assignment so that eventually they could achieve an agreement. A possible agenda of the second round was discussed at the meeting of the experts,” the source said.
An official in the Russian delegation told ITAR-TASS earlier that the meeting was aimed at holding “a detailed discussion on how to resolve the crisis in Syria.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Syria in a telephone conversation on Wednesday, January 29.
“The minister and the secretary exchanged views on the situation in Syria in the context of direct ongoing negotiations in Geneva between the parties to the Syrian conflict and some other issues on the joint agenda,” the Foreign Ministry said.
It said Russia and the U.S. had agreed to keep helping the Syrian sides continue the talks. “The sides noted that the vigorous and coordinated efforts of Russia and the United States had helped convene the international conference on Syria in Montreux on January 22 and launch negotiations between the Syrian sides with the mediation of Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi,” the ministry said after a meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.
The ministry said “this signifies the growing understanding in the world that there is no alternative to a political and diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria.”
“The Russian side stressed that the delegations of the Syrian government and opposition should continue the dialogue and initially work out a common vision for the future of their country. The reiteration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, consolidation of efforts of all Syrians against terrorism, and guarantees of rights and security for all ethnic and religious groups should be its central elements,” the ministry said.
Gatilov and Sherman agreed to maintain constant contact and help the Syrian sides continue their talks.