GENEVA — Syria peace talks hosted by the United Nations in Geneva spawned a new series of meetings on Thursday with no hint of tangible progress toward a deal to end the six-year-old civil war.
U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura had promised a refreshingly brisk pace of business-like meetings over a short four-day round, with new elections, a new constitution, reformed governance and counter-terrorism on the agenda.
He opened proceedings on Thursday by proposing setting up a “consultative mechanism”, which he would head, to avoid a power vacuum in Syria before a new constitution is in place.
That was rejected by the Syrian government and raised a string of questions from the opposition, so de Mistura said he was “moving beyond” those discussions to start a new set of expert meetings with each side.
Opposition spokesman Yahya al-Aridi told Reuters that the Damascus delegation was trying to divert attention from the main objective of the talks – political transition, a phrase used by the opposition to mean Assad’s ouster.
Asked if the three days of talks had made headway, he said: “Not too much. Original expectations were not very high.”