1st round of inter-Syrian talks to end in Geneva on Friday
The first round of negotiations between Syria's government and opposition delegations will close in Geneva on Friday.
Continuing sharp disagreements over a whole range of issues have not allowed the sides to engage in direct talks in which UN-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi would not be required to act as a mediator, or to secure any breakthrough in the search for a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.
Numerous topics have been addressed during the talks, including the opposition's insistence on forming a transitional ruling body in Syria, while the government's delegation centered on the fight against terrorism and the need to maintain security in the country.
The need to provide humanitarian aid to a number of Syrian districts, including the town of Homs and its suburbs, was high on the meeting's agenda.
So far, the sides have not reached an agreement on any of these issues, although Brahimi said that the talks "were not bad for a start."
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Brahimi said that, hopefully, the next round of Syrian settlement talks would be more orderly.
The sides have learned their lessons from this round, and the delegations will try to act in a more orderly fashion during the next meeting, he said.
The next round of talks between Syria's government and opposition delegations is expected to begin on February 10.
Badr Jamous, secretary general of Syria's National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, told Interfax on Thursday that the coalition's leaders would visit Moscow on February 3-4 for a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"I can confirm that head of the National Coalition Ahmad Jarba and I are meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on February 4. The meeting will focus on the progress of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva," Jamous said.
"The regime does not want to move forward, does not want to free children and women of the city Homs," Jamous said, when asked how the opposition delegation assesses progress in the intra-Syrian talks, the first round of which ends on Friday.
"There is no specific result but we shall be holding the talks," he said.
A Russian Foreign Ministry source, for his part, confirmed to Interfax that Lavrov's meeting with the leader of the Syrian National Coalition and the head of Syria's opposition delegation to the talks in Geneva had been set for February 4.
The first round of inter-Syrian negotiations was launched in Geneva on January 24 as part of the Geneva II international conference for Syria, which opened in Montreux on January 22. The event was initiated by Russia and the United States with the support of Brahimi and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
According to human rights campaigners, the armed conflict between Syria's authorities and opposition has claimed more than 100,000 lives since it began in the autumn of 2011.
The first conference meant to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis was held in Geneva in July 2012.
Moscow and Washington agreed to hold a new peace conference for Syria during U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Russia in May 2013. The decision was followed by several rounds of Russia-U.S.-UN talks intended to lay the groundwork for the conference.