the republic logo

Syrian peace talks in Moscow fail to bring parties closer

bug
Share/Save/Bookmark

MOSCOW — Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition ended in acrimony Friday with the parties blaming each other for the breakdown.

The Russian mediator of the weeklong meeting, Vitaly Naumkin, said the parties agreed on a set of principles for a political settlement, including the condemnation of foreign support for terrorist groups, a call for preserving state institutions and lifting economic sanctions.

But some opposition representatives later reversed their support for the initially approved document because of a failure to agree on moves to improve mutual trust, such as prisoners' release, said Naumkin, head of the Moscow-based Institute for Eastern Studies.

"If we spent another week here, we would probably reach agreement on other issues," Naumkin said at a briefing. "They sat at the table together, they didn't go into a fistfight, they listened to each other. It's good."

Moscow arranged the negotiations in a bid to raise its international profile at a time of bitter tensions with the West over Ukraine. The meeting followed the first round of Moscow-hosted talks in January.

"We didn't have any excessive expectations, we didn't expect the meeting to settle the Syrian crisis," Naumkin said, adding that there was no immediate plan for hosting the next round of talks.

PHOTO: Qadri Jamil, left, former deputy prime minister representing Syria's opposition Popular Front of Change and Liberation, Samir Aita, center, a member of Syrian Democratic Forum, and Suleiman Numrud, an independent Syrian opposition member, attend a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 10, 2015. Representatives of the Syrian government and opposition have wrapped up four days of talks in Moscow, with an opposition leader calling for a third U.N.-sponsored international conference aimed at resolving Syria’s four-year civil war. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Qadri Jamil, left, former deputy prime minister representing Syria's opposition Popular Front of Change and Liberation, Samir Aita, center, a member of Syrian Democratic Forum, and Suleiman Numrud, an independent Syrian opposition member, attend a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 10, 2015. Representatives of the Syrian government and opposition have wrapped up four days of talks in Moscow, with an opposition leader calling for a third U.N.-sponsored international conference aimed at resolving Syria’s four-year civil war. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, refused to attend the Moscow talks amid deep distrust of Russia's intentions.

Russia has staunchly backed Syrian President Bashar Assad's government throughout the country's civil war, now in its fifth year, which has killed more than 220,000 people and has turned nearly 4 million into refugees.

Bashar Jaafari, Syria's U.N. envoy who represented the Syrian government in the negotiations, sought to cast them as a success, hailing the initially agreed document. He tried to downplay opposition reversal of support.

"The government and the opposition managed to reach common ground on a number of important issues," he said at a news conference. Jaafari denied the opposition accusation that the government side was trying to drag out the talks to avoid discussing sensitive issues.

But Samir Aita, one of the opposition representatives who attended the talks, criticized the government for stonewalling demands for prisoner releases. He said "the document doesn't create hope, on the contrary, it destroys it."

The public spat followed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's meeting with negotiators on Thursday, in which he strongly urged the parties to reach a compromise to stem the spread of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in the region.

"You need to save the country and its people, or there will be no one left to build a renewed, united and sovereign Syria," Lavrov said.

He argued that the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State has failed to reach its goals, and criticized Washington for training some of the rebels, saying it would only fuel the conflict.

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

Story copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feedback, Corrections and Other Requests: AP welcomes feedback and comments from readers. Send an email to info@ap.org and it will be forwarded to the appropriate editor or reporter.


Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Bashar al-Jaafari, Syrian envoy to the UN, speaks at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 10, 2015.  Bashar al-Jaafari represented the Syrian government in Moscow talks with the opposition. Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition ended in acrimony Friday with the parties failing to bridge their differences. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Click to view (6 Photos)
We also have more stories about:
(click the phrases to see a list)

Category:

Follow The Republic:

All content copyright ©2015 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.