GENEVA - International talks on a way to resolve the increasingly bloody conflict in Syria opened in Geneva yesterday with world powers still in dispute over whether President Bashar al-Assad can have any role in a political transition.
Reuters reported Friday that Kofi Annan, the former U.N. chief and the special international envoy on Syria, is hoping for consensus on a plan for a unity government that would exclude controversial figures from leadership - effectively meaning Assad would step down. However, Moscow, a long-time ally of the Syrian strongman and an opponent of what it sees as foreign meddling in domestic affairs, objects to any solution imposed on Syria from outside.
A senior U.S. official said the talks “remain challenging” and may or may not reach a deal. “Discussions remain challenging. We’re continuing to work on this today, but we need a plan that is strong and credible. So we may get there, we may not”, the official told reporters.
The United States and its European and Arab allies see no way ahead while power remains in Assad’s hands. Even as the diplomats gathered at the United Nations complex by the shores of Lake Geneva, the Syrian army rained mortar fire on pro-opposition areas in Deir al-Zor, Homs, Idlib and the outskirts of Damascus, activists said.