UN envoy down on Syria talks

The United Nations special envoy to Syria on Tuesday delivered a downbeat assessment of U.S.-brokered peace talks that resumed this week.

Lakhdar Brahimi said Bashar Assad's regime and the U.S.-backed opposition are letting the world down by failing to make any progress as the second round of talks begin. The two parties are clashing over an interim government, which the opposition says can in no way include Assad.

“The beginning of this week is as laborious as it was the first week. We are not making much progress,” Brahimi told reporters. 

“I’m not sure whether I can impose an agenda on people who don’t want to,” he said. “You know, it is their country.”

Asked if he was happy with the pace of the talks, Brahimi flatly said: “No.”

“I mean I’m urging everybody to speed up, except those who kill people,” he said. “They shouldn’t speed up.”

The first face-to-face talks between the Assad regime and the opposition were brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. The U.S. and Russian negotiators — Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman and Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov — are scheduled to meet Friday, before Brahimi flies to New York next week to update the UN Security Council.

He called the Assad regime's recent decision to allow residents to leave the besieged city of Homs a “success,” but said much more must be done. More than 130,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began almost three years ago.

“Six long months, to get a couple of hundred people — no, a little bit more than that — about 800 people out, and a little bit of food in,” Brahimi said. “And there are lots of other places that are besieged, where nothing has happened.”

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