Monday, January 27, 2014
Syrian Talks Move to Issue of 'Transition of power'
On Sunday, the Syrian government delegation said women and children may leave the city - but demanded a list of names of men who want to leave. Some opposition delegates expressed reservations over the conditions.
"The regime keeps asking for lists," Obeida Nahas of the Syrian National Council said.
"We feel that these are lists that they will use in detaining people and maybe torturing them."
Officially the negotiations are due to tackle the potentially explosive question of transferring power in Syria on Monday . Those talks may still happen - but there is likely to be new pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's government over whether it will comply with a UN plan to send humanitarian aid to Homs.
Mr Brahimi admitted the talks were proceeding slowly but said that on Monday he "expected the two parties to make some general statement about the way forward". He said it was "too early" to assess the prospects of a comprehensive deal.
The opposition and government are fundamentally divided over the aims of the conference. The government delegation has said the main issue of the talks is finding a solution to foreign-backed "terrorism". The opposition, however, had insisted that the regime commit in writing to the Geneva I communique, which called for a transition process. It urged Syria to form a transitional governing authority that "could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups".
The opposition has also been asking for the release of thousands of prisoners in government detention. Mr Brahimi said he expected the talks on Monday to follow Sunday's format; he would hold a joint session with the government and opposition in the morning before meeting the sides separately in the afternoon. The UN envoy said he had been encouraged by the atmosphere at the talks on Sunday, saying they had been characterized by "respect and exchange".
Syria's civil conflict has claimed well over 100,000 lives since it began in 2011. The violence has also driven 9.5 million people from their homes, creating a major humanitarian crisis within Syria and for its neighbours.