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article imageRussian sponsored talks on Syria yield no agreement

By Ken Hanly     Apr 11, 2015 in Politics
Damascus - The Russian mediator thought that he had an agreement on principles for a political settlement to the Syria conflict but some opposition representatives refused support because there was no movement to build mutual trust such as prisoner releases.
The Russian negotiator, Vitaly Naumkin, said that the parties had reached an agreement upon principles, including condemnation of foreign support for terrorist groups, ensuring the preservation of state institutions, and lifting of economic sanctions. Naumkin, who is head of the Institute for Eastern Studies in Moscow, thought that difficulties could have been ironed out if the discussions had lasted longer:"If we spent another week here, we would probably reach agreement on other issues,They sat at the table together, they didn't go into a fistfight, they listened to each other. It's good..We didn't have any excessive expectations, we didn't expect the meeting to settle the Syrian crisis,". Moscow had hosted an earlier round of talks in January of this year. There are no immediate plans in the works for another round of meetings. Russia has been a loyal supporter of the Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. The civil war is in its fifth year. More than 220,000 have been killed and there are more than 4 million refugees.
Analysts claim that the meeting is intended to boost Russia's image as a peace maker in the region. The talks did not include any representatives of the Syrian National Coalition, the western-backed group based in Istanbul. The Islamic Front group of rebels, the more radical Nusra Front, and the Islamic State have consistently spurned any peace talks. The Syrian National Coalition accused Russia of using the talks to bolster Assad. Most opposition groups take the position that Assad must step down before there can be any peace agreement.
In spite of the failure of the talks in the end, Bashar Jaafari, the Syrian envoy to the US who had been representing Syria in the negotiations managed to spin the results as a success: "The government and the opposition managed to reach common ground on a number of important issues." Samir Aita, one of the representatives of the opposition said that the government had stonewalled demands for release of prisoners and that the document did not create hope but destroyed it. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov had met with negotiators on Thursday and urged them to reach a compromise to help stop the spread of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria saying: "You need to save the country and its people, or there will be no one left to build a renewed, united and sovereign Syria." Lavrov claimed that the US-led air campaign was not achieving its goals while US plans to train rebels would only exacerbate the conflict.
More about RussiaSyria relations, syria peace talks, Bashar alAssad
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