UN Syria envoy says new Geneva peace talks unlikely for now -report

by Reuters
Monday, 24 March 2014 14:25 GMT

A wounded boy reacts at a site hit by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Arbeen, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Diaa Al-Din

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BEIRUT, March 24 (Reuters) - The United Nations peace mediator for Syria has said it is unlikely talks in Switzerland between the Syrian government and opposition will resume soon, Lebanon's state news agency reported on Monday.

Lakhdar Brahimi mediated two rounds of talks in Geneva this year but failed to bring the two sides closer to agreeing on a transitional government as called for at an international conference in the Swiss city in 2012.

Speaking in Kuwait ahead of an Arab League summit, Brahimi said the conditions were not currently there for a return to the talks, according to the Lebanese National News Agency.

"It is unlikely at the current time that dialogue will resume between the Syrian regime and the opposition in Geneva," the agency quoted him as saying.

Syria's conflict, which entered its fourth year this month, has killed over 140,000 people and forced millions to flee.

International and regional powers have backed opposing sides in the civil war, with Russia and Iran supporting President Bashar al-Assad and Western powers and Gulf Arab countries largely backing the rebels.

Fighting has meanwhile continued, with the government flushing out rebels from towns and villages near the Lebanese border this month and insurgents launching counter-attacks near Assad's strongholds on the Mediterranean coast.

This month Brahimi said that if Syria went ahead with an election that would probably secure a new term for Assad, the opposition would probably not be interested in pursuing further peace talks with the government. (Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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