Syria’s warring sides exchange blame over stalled talks

Salem al-Meslet
Spokesman of the opposition Higher Negotiations Committee, Salem al-Meslet, talks to the media in Geneva

Delegates from the Syrian regime and the country’s main opposition bloc in Geneva have accused each other of not being serious in creating conditions for meaningful peace talks.

The United Nations’ plans to hold negotiations on ending the Syrian war was dealt a new blow on Sunday, as opposition and government delegations traded charges against each other.

The main opposition bloc met with the UN Syria envoy Staffan De Mistura in a hotel in Geneva, not at the UN headquarters in the Swiss city.

Salem al-Meslet, spokesman for the opposition’s High National Committee (HNC), told reporters on Sunday that the bloc would not join the talks before the implementation of their humanitarian demands.

“We wish to see food reaching people who are starving to death, to the women and children. we want women released from regime prisons and the criminal bombardment from Russia to end,” Meslet said.

After arriving in Geneva from the Saudi capital Riyadh, Meslet told reporters that “we are keen to make this negotiation a success.”

On the same day, a Syrian top official said Damascus wants to end the violence ravaging Syria for nearly five years, but lamented that the main opposition was “not serious” about UN-brokered peace talks.

The Syrian government “wants to put an end to the bloodshed,” Syria’s ambassador to the U.N. Bashar al-Jaafari told reporters in Geneva, describing HNC, which has said for now it will not negotiate,  as  “not serious.”

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry accused the Syrian regime and his allies of being the “primary source of death, torture and deprivation” in the five-year long conflict.

He urged Syria’s opposition and regime to play a full role in peace talks Sunday, and accused Assad’s forces of starving civilians.

Source: Agencies


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