Syria rivals to resume talks over interim authority

Photo: Syria rivals to resume talks over interim authority  / Arab World

Syrian government and opposition delegations were due Tuesday to resume direct talks after discussions over an interim administration for the war-torn country stalled, dpa reported.

UN and Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has said that the second day of direct talks would again focus on the political framework agreed by talks sponsors the United States and Russia.

Under the so-called Geneva I declaration, the two sides are supposed to negotiate a legal structure for the interim authority, to be comprised of members of President Bashar al-Assad's government, the opposition and independent figures.

"Tomorrow we talk about the Geneva declaration itself and see if we can start a debate," Brahimi told reporters on Monday evening.

Monday's session, in which delegations from the Syrian government and the opposition National Coalition addressed each other directly for the first time since talks started in the Swiss town of Montreux last week, was suspended after an hour amid mutual recriminations.

Opposition spokesman Louay al-Safi accused the official delegation of having "raised new proposals in order to avoid the Geneva I commitments."

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said his side had proposed a principles document guaranteeing Syrian sovereignty and an end to violence and "all forms of violence and extremism," but the opposition had rejected it.

The two delegations are also expected to discuss humanitarian measures for an estimated 3,000 civilians in the besieged old city of Homs, central Syria.

Brahimi on Sunday announced that the government had agreed to evacuate women, children and the elderly trapped in the rebel holdout, which has been under siege from government forces since July.

The opposition rejected the proposal, saying that a waiting aid convoy should be allowed into the area instead.

The government says it does not object to this but needs guarantees for the safety of the convoy.

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