Conflict & Justice

Syria peace talks in Geneva bring opposing sides face-to-face

Syria peace talks_CROP.jpg

UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi addresses a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva.

Credit:

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

"Intense, but positive." That's how Lakdar Brahimi, UN envoy mediator described the Syrian peace talks going on in Geneva.

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Friday is the last day of the first round of talks, and so far they haven't yielded any substantive results.

The BBC's Lina Sinjab says given the complexities of the Syrian war, the lack of progress was somewhat expected.

She says according to Brahimi, "the fact that the two delegations are still here and nobody walked out and left the talks is by itself significant."

The point of these talks in Geneva, which are also known as "Geneva II," was to get the Syrian opposition and members of the Syrian government to negotiate a road map to peace in the country.

The Syrian civil war has been going on for more than two years. According to the UN, more than 100,000 people have died and many more have been displaced.

The meeting in Geneva has also created a peculiar situation: the two opposing sides are meeting eye-to-eye.

Sinjab says the journalists accompanying both the Syrian government delegation and the opposition constantly challenge one another.

"Although there is tension towards the government and opposition, the journalists themselves, for the first time, are talking to each other and sometimes they are smiling to each other," she says, adding that it's a sign that Syrians can find common ground.

Before the Syrian civil war began, Sinjab, who is Syrian herself, reported from Syria. But she had to leave when it became too dangerous to stay.

Now, she says, in Geneva, she is coming across people she used to interview when she reported from Damascus. Most of them, just like her, have left the country.

As a Syrian, Sinjab says, it's difficult to see her country torn apart by war.

"It's really hard. It's heart breaking. As a Syrian I want justice to prevail for all Syria," she says.

Sinjab says she feels embittered by the violence committed by both the government and the opposition.

"I feel Syrians in general and Syria deserve much better," she says.