Syria talks in Geneva are said to make "positive" step forward


Associated Press

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 29 at 11:36 AM

GENEVA (AP) — For the first time today, Syrian negotiators have discussed the establishment of a transitional government body.

That word comes from an opposition delegate at the talks in Syria. He calls it a "positive step forward."

But there still appears to be almost no chance of a breakthrough before the two sides go home on Friday. Both sides continue to blame each other for an impasse.

A spokesman for the opposition's negotiating team says the Syrian government delegation stuck to its position that putting an end to terrorism was still its top priority. But he says the fact that a transition was even on the table was a good sign.

An adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad confirmed that both sides touched on the issue. But she said today's talks were constructive for another reason -- saying that the negotiators "spoke about terrorism."

The comments came after a meeting involving government and opposition delegates and the mediator for the U.N. and the Arab League, Lakhdar Brahimi (LAHK'-dar bra-HEE'-mee).

A deal that would allow humanitarian aid into the besieged city of Homs is still stalled. The Syrian delegation wants assurances that the U.S. aid won't go to what it calls "armed and terrorist groups" there.

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APPHOTO GE212: Bouthaina Shaaban, advisor to Syrian President Bashar Assad, briefs the media, at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. Shaaban spoke after a meeting between government and opposition delegates with the U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi. (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini) (29 Jan 2014)

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APPHOTO BEI101: This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center (AMC), an anti-Bashar Assad activist group, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrians inspect the rubble of destroyed buildings following a Syrian government airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. Syrian negotiators discussed the establishment of a transitional government body for the first time Wednesday, an opposition delegate said, describing it as a "positive step forward," a day after talks were cut short over a U.S. decision to resume aid to the opposition. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC) (29 Jan 2014)

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