Officials from almost a dozen countries pointed to the Syrian government as the reason serious progress wasn’t made in the talks ending Friday over stopping the country’s civil war, according to a communique.
Senior officials from Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States said the Syrian government “must not further obstruct substantial negotiations and it must engage constructively in the second round of negotiations.”
A senior U.S. official said “we hope for a more substantive discussion in round two,” but pushed back against the notion of a quick agreement, adding that “this will be a long, hard negotiation. It’s a very bitter, very nasty conflict on the ground in Syria.”
The group also called on the Syrian government to increase access to humanitarian aid, noting that “hundreds of thousands” of people are starving due to lack of access. The Syrian government has been accused of using starvation as a weapon of war.
The U.S. official said there are approximately 45,000 Syrians being blocked from humanitarian aid by opposition groups.
“The next thing we’re looking forward to is a meeting in Rome,” the official said. The meeting — which will take place on Monday — will discuss a U.N. Security Council Presidential Statement from last year regarding humanitarian aid access.
Syria has been under criticism this week as U.N. and U.S. officials have suggested they are delaying handing over its chemical weapons material, which would be taken out of the country and destroyed.
“I don’t know that the chemicals issue darkened the talks here, but there is a credibility issue for the Syrian government,” the U.S. official said referring to the talks in Geneva.
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