Brahimi: Syria peace talks make sluggish progress

Syrian government and opposition label the second round of peace talks so far as fruitless

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International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will hold talks on Syria with senior Russian and U.S. officials on Thursday, a day earlier than planned, a U.N. statement said as the mediator admitted that the peace process was making sluggish progress.

"The trilateral meeting with Mr. (Gennady) Gatilov and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman of the United States will now take place on Thursday the afternoon," read the statement.

Brahimi scrambled to keep the diplomatic push in Geneva alive on Wednesday, meeting with Gatilov and then jointly with the delegations of the Syrian government and opposition as he said the peace process was making slow progress.

“We are not making much progress,” Brahimi said during a press conference.

The second round so far is as “laborious” as the first, he added.

The talks which aim at ending Syria’s three-year-old civil war began with a week-long session last month and have resumed this week in Geneva.

Faisal Mokdad, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister said Tuesday was a “lost day,” accusing the opposition of denying the existence of terrorism in Syria, according to Reuters News Agency.

“Today was another lost day because the representatives of the Coalition insisted that there is no terrorism in Syria,” Mokdad said.

Meanwhile, Louay Safi, National Coalition spokesperson said “no progress” had been made, according to Reuters.

“It is obvious the regime is stalling and still believes in a military solution,” Safi said.

The National Coalition, Syria’s main opposition group believes a transitional administration must exclude Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but the government will not discuss his leaving.

The session was tense and the government was attempting to stall, a statement released by the Coalition read.

In an attempt to break the deadlock, Brahimi had proposed an agenda in which Tuesday would be used to discuss ending the violence and Wednesday to raise formation of a transitional governing body.

But both sides said the agenda had still not been agreed.

(With Reuters)

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