U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, left, arrives for his press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
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A contentious week-long first round of Syrian peace talks ended on Friday with no progress towards ending the civil war and the government delegation unable to say whether it will return for the next round in 10 days.Complicating matters further, the United States and Russia clashed over the pace of Syria's handover of chemical arms for destruction with Washington accusing Damascus of foot-dragging, putting the plan 6-8 weeks behind schedule -- and Moscow -- President Bashar al-Assad's big power ally -- rejecting this.Brahimi listed 10 simple points that he felt the two sides agreed on in the talks and said he thought there was more common ground than the sides recognised.But neither side has budged an inch from their main positions: the opposition wants the talks to focus on a transitional administration it says will remove Assad from power; the government wants to talk about fighting "terrorism" -- a word it uses to refer to all its armed foes.Reuters reported on Wednesday that Syria had given up less than 5 percent of its chemical weapons arsenal and will miss a deadline next week to send all toxic agents abroad for destruction.
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