U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has acknowledged that the first day of face-to-face talks between representatives of Syria’s government and the opposition coalition failed to yield anything in the way of results.
“We haven’t achieved much,” Brahimi said following the day’s discussions. “But, we are continuing.”
“The situation is very difficult and very, very complicated, and we are moving not in steps, but half-steps,” he said.
The Associated Press described the talks, which are set to resume on Sunday, as “painstakingly choreographed.”
“The opposing teams sat across from each other at a U-shaped table and made eye contact but did not speak, listening as [Brahimi], the international mediator for Syria, spoke about the agenda for the talks, said Obeida Nahas, a member of the opposition delegation.”
“The session lasted about 30 minutes, and the delegations left through separate doors to avoid contact, planning to resume in the afternoon to discuss the first order of business: a potential cease-fire in the central Syrian city of Homs to allow aid deliveries to reach areas long blockaded by the government.”
“One is on the left and one on right and they face one another and they talk to each other — through me, to one another,” he said. “This is what happens in civilized discussions.”
The AP says:
“The [opposition National Coalition] agreed to the Geneva talks only if the focus was on an end to the Assad dynasty, while the Damascus contingent zeroed in on fighting terrorism — disputing any claims that it had agreed to the talks’ stated goal of a transitional government.”