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Warring Parties Trade Blame For No Progress At Syrian Peace Talks


The lead negotiator for the Syrian opposition delegation, Nasr al-Hariri

Syria's warring parties traded blame on March 2 after nearly a week of peace negotiations without progress in Geneva, while the United Nations' negotiator pressed on with efforts to bring the two sides together.

In separate talks with both sides, UN Syria envoy Steffan de Mistura sought to focus the talks on agreeing to hold elections, draft a new constitution, and establish a transitional government -- with little apparent success.

After an hourslong session with Mistura on March 2, the Syrian government's lead negotiator, Bashar Ja'afari, said he wanted to focus the discussions on "counterterrorism," but the opposition delegation refuses to go along.

Ja'afari, backed by Syria's main ally, Russia, said the opposition is "holding the talks hostage" and accused some of its members of "high treason" because they receive support from Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey.

The lead opposition negotiator, Nasr al-Hariri, said his talks with Mistura were "very positive" and said his side will keep negotiating, although he conceded that the prospects for a breakthrough are "dim."

The mutual recriminations resumed despite an unusual move by Russia, the main powerbroker in the talks, to host a meeting with the leading opposition delegation on March 1 in an effort to find common ground.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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