Brahimi: Face to face Syria peace talks end in doubt on 6th day of negotiations in Geneva

The Associated Press

Syrian opposition chief negotiator Hadi Bahra, left, arrives for a meeting during the second round of negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi opened direct talks between the Syrian government and opposition Saturday in hopes of breaking the impasse in peace talks. Person at right is not identified. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)

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By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi ended direct talks between the Syrian government and opposition Saturday without finding a way of breaking the impasse in peace talks.

Saturday's talks, which lasted less than half an hour, left the future of the negotiating process in doubt.

Afterward, Brahimi told a news conference that he had proposed an agenda for another round of talks that would focus first on ending the violence and then cover how to create a transitional governing body.

"Unfortunately, the government has refused," he told reporters, saying he would now seek consultations with the United States and Russia, the main sponsors of the peace conference, and the United Nations to see how to proceed.

The latest round of talks aimed at finding some way out of Syria's civil war lasted for a sixth consecutive day at U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, while the violence kept escalating back home for Syrians.

"Everybody needs to go back to their base and we will contact each other to determine the coming date. It is not clear," Brahimi said.

Despite the hostility between the two delegations that has produced little more than public displays of acrimony and sparring before the TV cameras, the opposition said it continued to hold out hope for a political solution.

Anas al-Abdeh, a member of the opposition negotiating team, said his side accepted the agenda but the government's unwillingness to go along with it has put the prospects of a third session of talks within the "Geneva 2" negotiating round in doubt. The first peace conference, dubbed "Geneva 1," produced a roadmap for peace in June 2012 that was not followed.

Al-Abdeh called the stalemate a result of the government's "continuous effort to not talk and not to discuss the issue of the transitional governing body."

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