US, Russia talks on Syria end with no solution in sight

Saturday, January 12, 2013
Joint envoy of United Nations and the Arab League on the Syrian crisis
Lakhdar Brahimi with US and Russian diplomats [PHOTO: UNifeed]


Geneva: International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi and senior U.S. and Russian diplomats have called for a quick political solution to end the civil war in Syria, but reached no breakthrough.

"We are all very, very deeply aware of the immense suffering of the Syrian people, which has gone on for far too long," Brahimi told reporters after his talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Geneva on January 11. "And we all stressed the need for a speedy end to the bloodshed, to the destruction, and all forms of violence in Syria."

Brahimi added that the parties reiterated that “there was no military solution” to the Syrian conflict but expressed doubt that a resolution to the situation was in sight.

"If you are asking me whether the solution is around the corner, I'm not sure that is the case," he said.

The United Nations estimates more than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime began in March 2011.

Moscow and Washington remain deeply split over the Syrian crisis.

Washington backs the opposition and has demanded that President Bashar al-Assad leave power, while Russia supports Assad.

On January 10, Damascus denounced Brahimi as "flagrantly biased," after he rejected any role for Assad in a postwar transitional government.

Meanwhile, rebels are reported to have taken control of a strategic northwestern air base after days of fierce fighting with government forces.

Hundreds of fighters, led by Islamic militants, have besieged the air base since November.

Reports say helicopters based in the facility have been used to attack rebel-held areas in the north and deliver supplies to government forces.

Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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