Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pared-down Syria talks to proceed, officials say

GENEVA — The first direct talks between Syria's government and the opposition will go ahead with a limited agenda today, diplomats said, after an international conference this week exposed the depth of bitterness between the warring factions.

Negotiations, expected to last months, will get off to a slow start, with the initial focus on the thorny issue of what they are supposed to be about. In the absence of agreement even on that, the prospect of a timely resolution seems remote.

The opposition insists there can be no serious negotiations until the government accepts the terms of the 2012 Geneva 1 communique, which states that the purpose of the talks is to negotiate a transitional government to replace Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In a vitriolic speech to the conference in Montreux, Switzerland, on Wednesday that illustrated the deep divide, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem stressed that the government regards the negotiations above all as an opportunity to discuss counterterrorism and rejects an end to Assad's rule.

He questioned both the point of the talks and the legitimacy of the Syrian National Coalition, which is made up largely of exiles and lacks influence with an increasingly radicalized rebellion.

Rebel infighting has grown so deadly — nearly 1,400 killed in 20 days — that the head of al-Qaida called on Islamic militants to stand down, playing directly into Assad's argument that only his government is preventing Syria's further descent into chaos.

For much of Thursday, it was unclear whether the two sides would agree to meet in the same room today, calling into question the viability of long-awaited talks. U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi shuttled between the two sides in a bid to find enough common ground for talks to go ahead.

As a result, diplomats said, Brahimi will present the two sides with suggestions for subjects to talk about. They will go to separate rooms to discuss options.

Pared-down Syria talks to proceed, officials say 01/23/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 23, 2014 10:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries

    Blogs

    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.