0738 GMT February 19, 2018
Opposition groups met in Riyadh last month to hammer out a unified position ahead of the Geneva talks after the Syrian government recaptured all of the country’s main cities, which gave Damascus the upper hand after more than six years of war.
“As long as the other side sticks to the language of Riyadh ..., there will be no progress,” Bashar Jaafari said after a morning of talks, adding that the Damascus government would decide if his delegation would return next week, according to Reuters.
“For us (this) round is over, as a government delegation. He as mediator can announce his own opinion,” he said, referring to UN mediator Staffan de Mistura.
Pressed whether the government delegation would return to Geneva next week, Jaafari replied: “Damascus will decide.”
In a communique issued at the end of last month’s round of talks, the opposition reiterated its position that Assad can have no role in a political transition.
Jaafari said the opposition statement was a kind of “mine” on the road to Geneva and the opposition had purposefully undermined the talks.
“The language with which the statement was drafted was seen by us, the Syrian government, as well as by too many capitals as a step back rather than progress forward, because it imposed a kind of precondition,” he said.
“The language is provocative, irresponsible, politically speaking, and goes beyond the hopes of the Syrian people in this kind of talks.”