Geneva, Asharq Al-Awsat—International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will continue talks with Syrian government and opposition representatives in Geneva on Friday after a trilateral meeting with US and Russian officials on Thursday failed to achieve any tangible results.
Brahimi told reporters that he had held a two-hour meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov and US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Thursday. He said: “They have kindly reaffirmed their support for what we are trying to do and promised that they will help both here and in their capitals and elsewhere to unblock the situation for us, because until now we are not making much progress in this process.”
Brahimi declined to say that the Geneva II negotiations had failed, acknowledging the difficulties facing the talks and calling for international support to assist the ongoing negotiations. “Failure is always staring us in the face,” the UN–Arab League joint envoy to Syria said, adding that no new confidence-building measures had been discussed during the second round of Geneva II peace talks, which began on Monday. The first round of talks, which began on January 22, had produced a ceasefire agreement for Homs.
Asked whether the opposition and government delegations had moved closer on any issues, Brahimi told the press conference: “I think they are a little bit more familiar with the presence of the other side. I don’t think any friendships have developed yet.”
As far as the United Nations is concerned we will certainly not leave one stone unturned if there is a possibility to move forward. If there isn’t, we will say so,” he said.
“We’re still looking for the point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Brahimi added.
Rima Fleihan, a Syrian opposition delegation member at Geneva, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is not clear what will happen next, but consultations are ongoing and we are ready to negotiate.”
There has also been tension between Russian and Western delegations at the talks over competing UN Security Council resolutions on aid for Syria. Russia has presented a draft UN resolution on combatting “terrorism” in Syria, a move that has been strongly criticized by the opposition. “Terrorism is certainly no less acute a problem [than the humanitarian crisis],” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow.
Diplomatic sources in Geneva told Asharq Al-Awsat that the French delegation had sought to calm the situation with the Russians and open the door for informal diplomatic consultations over lunch, but Russian representatives had rejected the move.