A member of the Free Syrian Army flashes the victory sign
during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad
in the Bustan al-Qasr district in Aleppo. REUTERS/Muzaffar
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi and envoys from
Russia and the United States - backers of opposing sides in
Syria's civil war - have failed to make a breakthrough in talks
seeking a political solution to the conflict.
"We stressed again that in our view there was no military
solution to this conflict," Brahimi said in a joint statement
read out after his closed-door talks with US Deputy Secretary
of State William Burns and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
They agreed on the need to reach a political solution based
on an agreement reached by foreign powers in Geneva last
June, which called for a transitional period in Syria. That
left open the question of what role, if any, Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad would have.
That appeared to be sticking on point at Friday's meeting.
"The devil is in the details," Brahimi told reporters.
"We said that this transitional government that will be in
charge during the transitional period only, it is not a
government that will stay for a long time, it will direct the
transitional period that will end with the holding of the
elections that will be agreed upon," he said in Arabic,
adding that it would have "all powers of the state".
But asked by a reporter if there are had been any concrete
progress, he said: "If you are asking whether there is a
solution around the corner, I'm not sure that is the case."
The United States, European powers and Gulf-led Arab states
insist Assad must step down to end a war that has killed
60,000 people in nearly two years. Russia says this must not
be a precondition to a settlement.
Syria denounced Brahimi as "flagrantly biased" on Thursday,
casting doubt on how long the UN-Arab League mediator can
pursue his peace mission.
Brahimi, speaking to Reuters in Cairo a day earlier, said
Assad could have no place in a transitional government to end
the civil war, the closest he has come to calling directly
for the embattled president to quit.
Asked on Friday whether the Russians shared his views, he
replied: "I am absolutely certain that the Russians are as
preoccupied as I am, as preoccupied as the Americans are, by
the bad situation that exists in Syria and its continuing
"I am absolutely certain they would like to contribute to its
solution," he added.
But pressed on whether Bogdanov had come with new proposals
to pave the way for a political transition, he said: "We
discussed a lot of things. They had ideas, others also had
Earlier, a US official said the talks would focus on creating
the conditions for a political solution, specifically the
transitional body agreed on in June.
"The US position is clear: Assad has lost all legitimacy and
must step aside to enable a political solution and a
democratic transition that meets the aspirations of the
Syrian people," the US official said, asking not to be named.
Before the meeting, Bogdanov gave no indication Russia would
abandon its insistence that Assad must not be forced out by
Russia is "eagerly awaiting bringing the agreements reached
in Geneva to life without damaging the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Syria and without violating the
right of the Syrian people to choose their own leaders,"
Bogdanov was quoted as telling Russia Today television.