Syrian peace talks reach impasse; US, Russia spar
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Last Updated: Saturday, February 15, 2014, 06:18
  
Geneva: Peace talks aimed at forging a path out of Syria's civil war have reached an impasse, with no guarantee of continuing, after five days of sparring over responsibility for mounting violence back home and President Bashar Assad's future, government and opposition delegates said Friday.

Echoing the position of the rival camps, senior US and Russian officials traded accusations over who was to blame for the stalemate, adding to the polarization of a war that has killed 1,30,000 people, displaced millions, destroyed a country and threatens to engulf the Middle East in religious conflict.

It was unclear today how long the weary sides were willing to continue with the talks, which have been on the verge of collapse since they were convened last month. Despite the rancor, both sides left the door open for more negotiations, including a possible final session Saturday before breaking up.

A senior US official acknowledged that "talks for show make no sense" but told reporters there was still "enormous" energy for a political solution, adding that perhaps what was needed was "a few days of recess" for people to reflect. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity in keeping with rules established by the US administration.

Both the US and Russia have kept the talks going, knowing that it was the only option on the table, at least for now.

The rebellion against Assad's rule has been sapped by deadly infighting among moderates, Islamic groups and al-Qaida-inspired militants competing for control of territory, weapons and influence. Assad's forces are solidifying gains, but the battle lines are largely stalemated, leading to a growing sense internationally that neither side is close to victory.

For the Americans, backing down from a threat to strike militarily following a chemical weapons attack in August has left the Obama administration with little choice but to pursue a diplomatic track to end the carnage.

AP

First Published: Saturday, February 15, 2014, 03:08


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