No deal on Syrian peace talks date: UN envoy
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Last Updated: Wednesday, November 06, 2013, 09:07
Geneva: After a rocky day of talks, diplomats failed on Tuesday to agree on a date to bring Syria's warring sides back to the negotiating table, the UN's top envoy for Syria said.

Still, Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters at a news conference in Geneva that did not mean all hopes for a peace conference on Syria were dashed.

"(We) are still striving to see if we can have the conference before the end of the year," he said.

The diplomatic talks among world powers in Geneva at the UN's elegant Palais des Nations contrasted sharply with the heavy shelling and missile attacks being waged in a civil war that both sides still believe they might win militarily.

Diplomats ran into repeated roadblocks today. The world powers strongly disagreed over what diplomatic steps to take to resolve the fighting and what any future Syrian leadership beyond President Bashar Assad's government should look like.

Assad's government signaled it was not ready to negotiate handing over power, while his main ally Russia insisted, once again, that pro-Assad Iran must be part of any talks on a war whose death count officially surpassed 100,000 more than three months ago.

The United Nations, meanwhile, announced that as many as 40 per cent of Syrians now need humanitarian aid.

The Syrian war has left over 9 million citizens in need of humanitarian aid, including 6.5 million people who are now internally displaced, said Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"They're staggering, it's a disaster, and it continues," Laerke said.

Brahimi and Jeff Feltman, the UN's undersecretary-general for political affairs, met with senior Russian and US officials to see if a UN-sponsored peace conference bringing together Assad's government and a united opposition delegation could be convened this year.

The circle expanded for a second meeting with three permanent members of the UN's 15-nation Security Council Britain, France, China.

By late afternoon, it expanded again to include four of Syria's neighbors Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq nations that are struggling to cope with a conflict that has produced more than 2.1 million Syrian refugees.

Diplomats were trying to resume negotiations that created the roadmap for a Syrian political transition adopted last year in Geneva.


First Published: Wednesday, November 06, 2013, 09:07

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