Opposition Delegation Adds Representatives From Insurgency

UPDATE 1955 GMT: The fundamental division between the opposition and Assad delegations continued in Wednesday afternoon’s talks.

The opposition submitted a plan to United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi for a transitional governing body to oversee a cease-fire monitored by the United Nations.

“The Transitional Governing Body (TGB) will prepare and oversee a total cease-fire by taking immediate measures to stop military violence, protect civilians, and stabilize the country in the presence of U.N. observers,” the five-page document said.

All parties would “cooperate with the TGB in stopping the violence including the complete withdrawal of troops and tackling the issue of decommissioning the weapons of armed groups and demobilizing its members or integrating them into the army or civil public sectors”.

The Assad delegation did not reply to the plan, maintaining that discussion was “fruitless” and that negotiations must first focus on “terrorists”.

UPDATE 1455 GMT: United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has spent Wednesday meeting Russian officials as well as opposition and Assad delegations.

Brahimi first met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, who was later meeting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, the head of the Assad delegation.

An opposition source said it had met with the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on Tuesday evening.

Brahimi began a joint session with the opposition and Assad delegations at mid-day, with no sign of advance — even on agreeing an agenda for talks.

Brahimi will meet Gatilov and US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman on Thursday, a day earlier than planned.

There was no advance on Tuesday in the Geneva II talks on Syria, despite United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s declaration of his “tons of patience”.

The opposition and Assad delegations could not even agree on points for an agenda, with the opposition insisting on priority for a transitional governing authority and regime officials declaring that the fight against “terrorism” had to be first.

Brahimi (pictured) said the second round of discussions, which began on Monday, were “laborious”. “We are not making much progress,” he said, although he added that he had “tons of patience”.

The UN envoy proposed to the delegations that they discuss ending the violence on Tuesday and move to formation of a transitional governing body on Wednesday.

Today was another lost day because the representatives of the Coalition insisted that there is no terrorism in Syria,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad said.

Senior Assad advisor Bouthaina Shaaban asserted that the opposition refused to “acknowledge that there is terrorism in Syria”, as “the only thing they want to discuss is the transitional government.”

Opposition spokesman Louay Safi responded, “It is obvious the regime is stalling and still believes in a military solution.”

Meanwhile, limited aid efforts in the Old City of Homs, which has become a touchstone for the possibility of humanitarian advance out of the discussions, were suspended for “logistical and technical reasons”.

Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi said the aid mission would resume on Wednesday.

More than two weeks ago, Brahimi set aid into Homs, as well as evacuation of civilians, as a marker for progress in the Geneva II talks. At least 900 people were finally moved from the Old City last weekend, but the effort was hindered by firing on United Nations vehicles, killing five civilians and restricting aid deliveries.

The UN envoy insisted on Tuesday that the initiative had been a “success”, even though it was only a “small step” and aid had not been agreed for other besieged towns and cities.

Opposition Delegation Adds Representatives From Insurgency

A seven-member “military and security” team has joined members of the Syrian National Coalition at the Geneva II talks.

The team include the Syrian Revolutionaires Front, led by Jamal Maarouf, insurgents from Daraa Province in southern Syria, and defectors from the regime’s security services.

The Islamic Front, the largest insurgent bloc, is not represented.

“No one has a monopoly on the armed struggle. The Islamic Front has a problem with Geneva and we respect that. They are welcome to join us,” opposition spokesman Anas al-Abdah said.