Middle East

Russia: Syria peace talks 'going in circles'

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference after a meeting with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Moscow, February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

GENEVA: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lashed out at the United States Friday, accusing it of using Syrian peace talks in Geneva for the sole purpose of "regime change."

His comments suggested a meeting between senior U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva a day earlier had not gone well.

"The only thing they want to talk about is the establishment of a transitional governing body," Lavrov said.

"Only after that are they ready to discuss the urgent and most pressing problems, like terrorism," he added, speaking after meeting with the German foreign minister in Moscow.

A second round of peace talks in Geneva has yielded little more than acrimony. Violence has escalated on the ground and delegates have not agreed on an agenda for the talks. The opposition and its U.S. backers insist the aim of the talks is to agree on a transitional governing body to administer the country until the next elections.

The Syrian government delegation says halting "terrorism" should be the priority, and rules out talk of transition while the violence rages.

On Friday, Brahimi met separately with the Syrian government and opposition delegations.

"Failure is always staring at us in the face," told reporters on Thursday.

The talks aim to end the conflict which has killed more than 130,000 people and displaced millions in three years.

Lavrov said the Russian-American initiative for the talks in Geneva clearly stated that discussions must not have artificial time constraints or deadlines.

"Now they are saying that to keep talking is senseless, because the government (of Syria) doesn't want to agree about the makeup of a transitional governing body. We are going in circles," Lavrov said.





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