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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

President Assad's resignation not on Geneva agenda - Syrian FM

10 February 2014, 17:47

There will be no discussion concerning President Bashar al-Assad's resignation at Geneva conference, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said on Monday.

'Surely we will not speak about the resignation of Bashar Assad. We do not have such topic on the agenda, and never have, so take time to explain this to everyone who dreams about him resigning, that they are simply wasting our time.

Such discussions are intolerable,' Mekdad said.

The first round of the Geneva-2 international conference on the Syrian peaceful settlement, which lasted more than a week, ended late January.

According to the UN and LAS special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, negotiations between the representatives of the authorities and the opposition 'had a tough start, and have made slow progress. 'In essence, the delegations could not agree on any item.

The opposition accuses the authorities of unwillingness to yield positions or discuss the composition and format of a transitional authority. Representatives of Damascus, in turn, are unhappy with the composition of the opposition delegation and insist on a broader presence of opponents of Bashar al-Assad.

Russia disappointed at Syrian opposition's delegation roster

Russia has expressed its disappointment in the line-up of the Syrian opposition's delegation which has remained unchanged since the first round of peace talks wrapped up in Geneva on January 31.

The Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Office, Alexei Borodavkin, noted on Monday that both the Geneva communique and the US-Russia statement of 7 May 2013 stipulated that the Syrian opposition delegation must be represented at the peace talks by a wider range of liberal opposition forces.

He said the opposition obviously failed to meet this requirement by bringing in people from only a handful of the National Coalition's groups and parties. "It is a real shame," the ambassador added.

Brahimi demands commitment to peace from Syrian rivals

The Geneva peace talks aimed at reconciling the Syrian nation will focus on the key issues of setting up a transitional government, putting an end to bloodshed and restoring national institutions, mediator Lakhdar Brahimi was quoted as saying on Monday. He also demanded that the rival delegations show more commitment to a peaceful solution.

The UN and Arab League's special envoy to Syria reportedly said today the Syrian government and the opposition should demonstrate more political will when negotiating all the major controversies.

Mr. Brahimi is expected to spend the next two to three days shuttling between the two delegations who still won't talk directly to each other, according to a document recently obtained by Reuters.

He plans to keep the two meetings separate and move between two rooms for now in the hope of improving the atmosphere during the second round of peace talks, which began Monday. The first round lasted two weeks and finished in late January.

The creation of a transitional government and the regime's alleged brutality towards civilians will be the main focus for the opposition National Coalition said representative, Luai Safi.

"We want to discuss two key topics: a transitional governing body and the regime's violence towards civilians," Mr. Safi said at the morning session today.

Brahimi to moderate US-Russia foreign officials' talks in Geneva

Russian and American deputy foreign chiefs are to meet in Switzerland this week where they are expected to discuss Syria progress with the help of UN/Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

"The parties are to exchange opinions on the Syrian question to move ahead with the ongoing round of talks in Geneva," a Russian newswire cited a diplomatic source as saying today.

"Russia will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov. The US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman is also expected to arrive in Switzerland before long. She will speak on hehalf of the American delegation," the source informed.

Round two of Syria talks kicks off in Geneva as hundreds flee Homs

A fresh round of peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition has kicked off in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting comes as the United Nations and Syrian Red Crescent continue an aid and rescue operation to bring civilians out of the rebel-dominated city Homs.

The United Nations-brokered negotiations are mediated by the UN and Arab League's special Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who will reportedly meet each of the delegations separately.

Today's meeting will set the meetings' schedule for the next few days.

The February talks follow the first round of peace negotiations that wrapped up on 31 December, 2013, with no sign of a breakthrough after the warring parties failed to agree on their top priorities.

The split continued due to the Syrian opposition's fixation on a transition government minus the incumbent President Bashar al-Assad, while the Assad administration focused on putting an end to terrorism in the country, which it cited as its main objective.

The opposition said that Assad's removal from power was a "red line" in the peace talks, stressing the president should be excluded from any future government.

Nevertheless, watchdogs have hailed the first step of Syria's nationwide rapprochement, saying the parties' willingness to sit down at the negotiating table was an achievement in itself, even though all the talking was done indirectly through Mr. Brahimi.

Another positive shift in the conference was the fact that the rebel-held city of Homs allowed aid convoys in to help the deprived civilians.

A ceasefire was announced in the embattled central city of Homs on Friday, allowing the Red Crescent to bring relief aid to the population and evacuate hundreds of starving civilians.

Voice of Russia, Interfax, RIA, TASS

Source: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_02_10/ President-Assad-s-resignation-not-planned- for-discussion-in-Geneva-Syrian-FM-9287/



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