No direct meetings to start Syria peace talks: Kerry

DAVOS, Switzerland -- The opposing sides will not initially meet face-to-face in planned Syria peace talks in Geneva next week, U.S.

See Full Article

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday, a sign that obstacles remain in the latest diplomatic push to end the conflict.

The first U.N.-brokered meeting in the Swiss city will be "proximity talks" in which representatives of the government and opposition will gather separately, Kerry said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The talks are tentatively planned to take place Monday, but diplomats say that could slip by up to a few days.

The cautious, step-by-step approach points to the delicate task faced by U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who is eager to make concrete progress toward ending the nearly five-year-old war that has claimed more than 250,000 lives, displaced millions and given an opening to the extremist Islamic State group to seize land.

The intra-Syrian talks also come against the backdrop of a string of recent battlefield victories by the government that have bolstered President Bashar Assad's hand and plunged the rebels into disarray, raising the prospect that the Geneva talks could become moot as the situation on the ground evolves.

"You are not going to have a situation where people are sitting down at the table staring at each other or shouting at each other," Kerry. "You're going to have to build some process here."

Such talks have fallen apart before: An attempt in Montreux, Switzerland, in January and February 2014 collapsed when the Syrian delegation refused to discuss Assad and branded the opposition terrorists. One of the major sticking points has been the list of invitees.

In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif of Iran -- a strong backer of Assad -- said he hadn't seen a final list of expected attendees. Also on hand in Davos on Thursday, Ahmet Davutoglu, prime minister of Syria's neighbour Turkey, said the "only criteria" was that "there should not be representation of terrorist groups."

Kerry said de Mistura probably would not send the invitations until Sunday.

"I think what will happen is that on Monday there will be some discussions but I would say by Tuesday or Wednesday people will be able to get there. We just see this as logistical," he told a small group of reporters in Davos.

Kerry, who met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Zurich on Wednesday and then briefly with Zarif in Davos, will be travelling to Saudi Arabia over the weekend for talks with Saudi officials on how to push forward the political process.

He said he believed current tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, inflamed by the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric that sparked the sacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, would not affect the Syria talks. And he noted that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had on Wednesday apologized for the attack on the embassy.

"The supreme leader went to the extraordinary length of actually apologizing yesterday," Kerry said. "That is very significant and I hope people will recognize that in today's context, measured against where we've been, that's a huge step."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Pinky's big adventure: Plush bunny lost at airport finds her way to 9-year-old owner

    Canada News CBC News
    A bunny named Pinky had a wild adventure in the Halifax airport before taking a first-class flight to be reunited with her owner. "We're going to make her a cake," says Summer Tonne, Pinky's nine-year-old owner, of her plans for the bunny's return. Source
  • Medicinal marijuana users worry as condos rush to ban pot smoking ahead of legalization

    Canada News CBC News
    Gerald Major goes out on the back balcony of his condo several times a day, leaning against the wall and smoking or vaping medicinal cannabis to ease the pain and other symptoms of severe arthritis. But the looming legalization of recreational marijuana may put his daily ritual in jeopardy, as condominium corporations and apartment buildings across the country scramble to enact rules that would ban pot smoking inside units, on balconies and in common areas used by residents. Source
  • 'It means everything to me': Wait times to have refugee claims heard continue to rise

    Canada News CBC News
    After more than a year of anxious waiting, Guled Abdi Omar has just received some good news: his refugee claim has been accepted, paving the way for him to eventually become a Canadian citizen. "I'm feeling happy — I'm just shaking," Omar said Tuesday, moments after learning of the approval at a hearing in Winnipeg. Source
  • Month after Trump-Kim summit, remains of U.S. prisoners still in North Korea

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- More than a month after North Korea pledged to immediately return some American war dead, the promise is unfulfilled. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who travelled to Pyongyang this month to press the North Koreans further, said Wednesday the return could begin "in the next couple of weeks. Source
  • Papadopoulos' wife meets with Democrats in Washington

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The wife of former Donald Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was on Capitol Hill Wednesday speaking to Democrats on the House intelligence committee. Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos was doing the interview with Democrats who are frustrated that the GOP-led House intelligence committee would not call more witnesses before it completed its Russia investigation earlier this year. Source
  • Police, family ask for clues in finding B.C. teen Marrisa Shen's killer

    Canada News CTV News
    BURNABY, B.C. -- On the one-year anniversary of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen's murder in Burnaby, B.C., her family and the police are pleading with anyone who may have information to come forward. Cpl. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team read a statement from the family that says Shen loved life, had a beautiful smile and they were supposed to watch her grow up but instead are left wondering what could've been. Source
  • Banff's bathroom bears returned to the park after 15 months of rehab in Ontario

    Canada News CTV News
    BANFF, Alta. -- Three cubs found abandoned in a washroom along the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park have been returned to the area. The black bears, now yearlings, were sent to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Ontario last April. Source
  • 'We miss her beyond words': Marrisa Shen's family asks for help finding teen's killer

    Canada News CBC News
    On the one-year anniversary of their daughter's homicide, the family of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen are appealing for help finding her killer, saying they "miss her beyond words." "Marrisa was only 13 years old when her life was taken," her family said in a letter read by police. Source
  • Search for Canadian hiker scales back in California desert

    Canada News CTV News
    JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - A search for a Canadian hiker missing in the Southern California desert has been scaled back after five days of intensive but unsuccessful efforts that found no trace of the man. Source
  • Trump's diagnosis for critics: 'Trump Derangement Syndrome'

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump and his supporters have a new buzz phrase to diagnose his critics: "Trump Derangement Syndrome." The term is supposed to describe voters who are so angry and opposed to the U.S. Source