Brahimi to hold talks over Syria on Feb 13
Geneva, February 12, 2014
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will hold talks on Syria with senior Russian and US officials on February 13, a day earlier than planned, a UN statement said.
"The trilateral meeting with (Gennady) Gatilov and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman of the United States will now take place on Thursday ...in the afternoon," it said.
Brahimi scrambled to keep the diplomatic push in Geneva alive on Wednesday (February 12), meeting with Gatilov and then jointly with the delegations of the Syrian government and opposition.
A opposition source said the National Coalition met with the Russian ambassador to the UN in Geneva on Tuesday evening as involvement by Moscow, President Bashar Assad's ally, is stepped up after two days of talks ended with no progress.
Brahimi, the United Nations envoy, began a joint session with the delegations of the Syrian government and opposition at mid-day on Wednesday, the UN statement said.
But the two sides remain far apart in their approach to talks sponsored by their respective backers Russia and the United States.
"The process is going to have to gain substance if there is going to be a real exchange," a Western diplomat said.
"The real question is can the process here address the problem of violence and get at the root cause by implementing the Geneva Communique," he said, referring to the roadmap agreed by world powers in June 2012 that calls for the two warring sides to set up a Transitional Governing Body.
Brahimi said on Tuesday he aimed to discuss the key issues of violence and establishment of a Transitional Governing Body in parallel. However Damascus says it wants to address the issue of "terrorism" first and political transition later.
Assad's forces and allied Lebanese militia Hezbollah stepped up attacks on Syria's strategic border town of Yabroud on Wednesday, activists said, in apparent preparation for a new offensive to flush out rebels. - Reuters