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Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi voices doubts on Syria peace talks

The next round of talks is up in the air after US-Russia talks on Syria ended without agreement.

Lakhdar Brahiimi Syria conflict UNEnlarge
Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is seen during a meeting for peace mediators in Losby manor outside Oslo, on June 18, 2013. (Heiko Junge/AFP/Getty Images)

High level talks between the United States and Russia ended without an agreement Tuesday, and no date set for the next round, according to Russia's deputy foreign minister.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said there was no agreement on who would represent the Syrian opposition or whether Iran would be involved in talks.

The United Nations released a statement saying the discussions were "constructive." It added, "The meeting has been informed that (Russian) Minister Lavrov and Secretary Kerry would be meeting next week."

Ahead of the meeting, Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria, said he doubted the Syria peace talks would even take place in July.

"Frankly I doubt whether the conference will take place in July. The opposition has their next meeting on July 4-5. So I don't think they will be ready," Lakhdar Brahimi said ahead of the meeting with Russian and US officials.

Brahimi's meeting with Wendy R. Sherman, US under secretary of state for political affairs, and two Russian deputy foreign ministers, Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov, comes as many have begun to doubt whether the peace conference will happen.

The Syrian opposition and the government of President Bashar al-Assad have established seemingly inflexible positions. For example, Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, recently told a news conference that Assad's presidency is still not open for debate.

“We head to Geneva not to hand over power to another side,” he said. "If anyone imagines this, I advise them not to go to Geneva.” 

However, Brahimi did say the talks — when and if they happen — would likely be "constructive," even if they won't resolve many key issues.

In the absence of a peaceful political solution, Brahimi looked to the US and Russia to "contain" the civil war that has killed more than 93,000 people and displaced millions.

"I very, very much hope that the governments in the region and the big powers — particularly the United States and Russia — that they will act to contain this situation that is getting out of hand not only in Syria but also in the region," Brahimi said.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has called the Syrian regime's actions against the rebels a "genocide."

Speaking at a news conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said, "Syria is facing a double-edged attack. It is facing genocide by the government and an invasion from outside the government."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/130625/syria-envoy-lakhdar-brahimi-doubts-syria-peace-talks