Published : 2013-01-10 19:15
Updated : 2013-01-10 19:15
WASHINGTON (AFP) ― U.N. peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will meet with top Russian and U.S. officials in Geneva on Friday, for fresh talks on how to end the bloody 21-month conflict in Syria.
Both Moscow and Washington confirmed Wednesday that talks would go ahead between joint U.N.-Arab League envoy Brahimi, as well as Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns.
Since the three men met for the first time in December, Brahimi has traveled to Syria where the opposition is seeking to end President Bashar al-Assad’s iron-fisted rule.
“Brahimi’s been out in the region. He got a chance to talk to Assad. He’s talked to the opposition,” State Department official Victoria Nuland said.
“He now will refine, presumably, some of the ideas that he had about how a transitional government based on the Geneva framework could go forward.”
The first step was to try to take the document drawn up in June and “actually begin to implement it, to actualize it,” Nuland said.
“Then we have to, obviously, talk to the parties and see where we go.”
The Syrian National Coalition, which has been recognized by many countries, including the U.S., as the sole legitimate authority of the Syrian people, has already accepted the principles of the Geneva plan.
But questions remained about how to implement it, Nuland said.
“It calls for transitional governing structures; who would be in those structures? How would you actually come up with the group? Can you actually get the regime to be willing to move forward, to get out of the way, whatever it takes?” she asked.
The last round of consultations in December resulted in leaked reports of a joint Russia-U.S. initiative on moving toward a transition government that the armed opposition could embrace.
Assad however has repeatedly stressed he will not step down, and on Sunday gave a defiant speech outlining his own three-step plan to end the conflict which according to U.N. estimates has claimed 60,000 lives.
Brahimi told the BBC Wednesday that Assad’s plan for Syria is “perhaps even more sectarian, more one-sided.”
“What you need is reaching out and recognizing that there is a problem, a very, very serious problems between Syrians, and that Syrians have got to talk to one another to solve it,” he said.
Moscow has been under intense pressure to urge the leadership of its Middle East ally to accept a face-saving agreement that would see the rebels assume gradual command.
Russia said a political solution should be based on the transition plan that was never implemented because of the fighting, “and several ideas voiced by Syrian President Assad.”