Newspaper article International New York Times

Deadlock in Syria Jeopardizes Coming Talks

Newspaper article International New York Times

Deadlock in Syria Jeopardizes Coming Talks

Article excerpt

The parties emerged with no new progress on the last day of a temporary pause in fighting in the central Syrian city of Homs,

Syrian government and opposition delegations continued to talk past one another in face-to-face negotiations on Wednesday, raising the stakes of meetings that the two sides are scheduled to hold later in the week with senior Russian and American officials, in the hope that pressure from their sponsors can break the deadlock.

The parties emerged with no new progress on the last day of a temporary pause in fighting in the Syrian city of Homs, where United Nations workers were trying to evacuate an additional 200 civilians from neighborhoods long blockaded by the government. But there was no further word on the fate of more than 300 men who were detained by the government after evacuating in recent days, a development that raised concerns that the authorities were using the aid delivery and evacuations as a way to arrest opponents.

Footage from Homs on Wednesday showed two United Nations light trucks, flying white flags with the World Food Program logo, jouncing over rubble through bombed-out neighborhoods ferrying shipments of boxed food and flour sacks, which wiry men scrambled to unload. The United Nations declined to comment on the operation, but two Homs residents, Ahmad Al-Qaseer and Khoudir Khashfeh, said in separate interviews that about 200 people were being evacuated, including some wounded, and that two trucks had entered without violence disrupting the delivery.

The so-called humanitarian pause in Homs, so far the only concrete achievement of the Geneva talks, has been controversial, with government supporters saying it amounts to feeding enemies, and with opponents saying that it is a government scheme to displace or imprison residents and then obliterate what remains of the neighborhoods and their residents.

In Geneva, the United Nations mediator Lakhdar Brahimi brought the two sides together for discussions expected to consider issues linked to the formation of a transitional government as mandated by the 2012 Geneva communique that forms the basis for these peace negotiations and in line with a memorandum he had submitted to both sides at the weekend. …

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