Monday, January 22, 2018
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Syria blame game continues after failed Geneva talks

US calls on Syrian government to 'participate fully' in Geneva talks, while Damascus blames stalemate on preconditions.

Syria's war

The United States has urged the Syrian government to "participate fully" in negotiations with the opposition, while a Syrian official blamed opposition preconditions for yet another failed round of talks in Geneva.

Referring to the negotiations, which ended in the Swiss city on Thursday without any results, the US state department commended the Syrian opposition's "constructive participation", which it said stood in contrast to the "obstructionism and procrastination" of the government delegation.

"We support [UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan] de Mistura's call for the regime's supporters to use their leverage to urge the regime to participate fully in tangible negotiations with the opposition in Geneva," Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Friday.

This was the eighth round of Syria peace talks in Geneva.

The UN-backed international conference on the future of Syria aims to end the war by bringing together the Syrian government and the opposition to discuss steps towards a transitional government.

De Mistura criticised the Syrian government for having preconditions for direct talks with the opposition delegation and only discussing the issue of what Damascus called "terrorism".

Describing the failed talks as a "missed golden opportunity", de Mistura said that he was disappointed with the results but that he was planning yet another round of talks in Geneva in January.

'Honest and objective'

Syria strongly condemned de Mistura's remarks, alluding to the 70-year-old Italian-Swedish diplomat's perceived bias in the talks. 

Syrian state news agency SANA quoted an unnamed official at Syria's foreign ministry late on Friday who said that Syria had "always dealt in a positive manner with all honest efforts to resolve the [country's] crisis".

The source said that de Mistura "must be honest and objective in order to reach results that would put an end to the crisis" and that he must work to remove obstacles placed by "states and sides that control other parties in Geneva talks".

The Syrian government's chief negotiator, Bashar al-Jaafari, said that his side would not engage in any dialogue with the opposition unless they retracted a recent statement issued in Saudi Arabia, which again insisted on the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.

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