The second round of the Syria peace talks has ended without making any progress. No date has been set for representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition to meet face-to-face again.
UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said Saturday that the final day of the talks in Geneva, which lasted less than half an hour, had ended in a stalemate. The lack of progress leaves the likelihood of future talks in doubt.
"I think it is better that every side goes back and reflects on their responsibility, [and on whether] they want this process to continue or not," Brahimi told reporters.
Lack of progress
The two sides accomplished little during the six-day talks. Representatives from President Bashar al-Assad's government and the Syrian opposition often traded blame and had difficulty agreeing even on the agenda.
According to opposition negotiator Ahmad Jakal, Saturday was no different.
"It was a short, tense session, dominated by differences over how to tackle the issues of violence and political transition," he said. "Mr. Brahimi set no date for a third round but he made it clear he expects there will be one."
Brahimi described the last day of the as being "as laborious as all the meetings we have had, but we agreed on an agenda for the next round when it does take place," referring to the issues to be discussed that include terrorism and violence, the transitional governing body, national institutions and national reconciliation.
"I apologize that these two rounds have not come out with very much," he added.
When asked about a third round of talks, opposition spokesman Louay Safi told reporters that unless they included discussing a political transition away from the Assad regime, they "would be a waste of time."
Humanitarian aid concern
Although a resolution to the nearly-three-year conflict was not expected, there was some hope the two sides could come to an agreement over delivering aid to citizens in besieged areas.
In Geneva on Saturday, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, said both government and rebel forces fail to honor the basic principles of international humanitarian law.
Of particular concern, he said, was the evacuation of Syrians from the rebel-controlled Old City section of Homs.
Negotiations between the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the ICRC over the last year had not yielded "meaningful access or a firm commitment to respect the basic principles of international humanitarian law. This pattern has again played out in Homs over the last week," Maurer said in a statement.
dr/jm (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)