Syria Peace Talks: Negotiations on hold over US aid to opposition

Jan 29 2014, 20:25 IST
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SummaryNegotiations between Syrian peace talks negotiators broke off earlier than planned...

Negotiations between Syrian peace talks negotiators broke off earlier than planned Tuesday amid mutual accusations and the government's anger over the resumption of US aid to the opposition.

The fifth day of talks focused on the transfer of power and helping besieged parts of Homs city. But there has been little progress toward resolving a key issue of whether President Bashar Assad should step aside and transfer power to a transitional government.

U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi broke off the morning session after the opposition rejected a paper presented by the official Syrian delegation denouncing the resumption of U.S. aid.

''We believe this is not the best present to the Geneva conference,'' said Faisal al-Mikdad, Syria's deputy foreign minister, calling the American decision ''another manifestation of U.S. support for ''terrorist groups'' in Syria.

''This proves again that the United States is not interested in the success of this process, and we believe the U.S. has to desist and stop its claims that it is interested in the success of this conference,'' he told reporters following the meeting.

American officials said Monday the U.S. has restarted deliveries of nonlethal aid to the Syrian opposition, more than a month after al-Qaida-linked militants seized warehouses and prompted a sudden cutoff of Western supplies to the rebels.

The officials said the communications equipment and other items are being funneled only to non-armed opposition groups, but the move boosts Syria's beleaguered rebels, who saw their international support slide, in large part because of the extremists among their ranks.

''Any notion that we support terrorists is ludicrous. The Assad regime is a magnet for terrorists,'' U.S. State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said in a statement. ''The regime's brutality is the source of the violent extremism in Syria today. We support the moderate political and military opposition who are fighting for the freedom and dignity of all the Syrian people.''

Vasquez said the document the Syrian government offered ''shows that the regime is evading the core purpose of the Geneva talks,'' which is to reach a negotiated political solution for ending the war and suffering of Syrians.

Brahimi opened the morning session reviewing the principles of the Geneva Communique of June 2012, a broad but ambiguous proposal endorsed by Western powers and Russia to provide a basis for negotiations. Assad's role in any transitional government was a red line during those negotiations and left vague. The U.S. and Russia

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