U.S., Russia Talks on Syria Stall
Envoys from the United States, Russia, and the United Nations met on Friday to discuss a political solution to the conflict in Syria. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, and U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi agreed that “there was no military solution to this conflict.” In spite of shared views on the necessity of a political resolution, the envoys did not establish a plan for implementing the transitional process described in last June’s agreement in Geneva. “If you are asking whether there is a solution around the corner, I’m not sure that is the case,” Brahimi told a reporter.
The talks appeared to stall due to disagreements on President Bashar al-Assad‘s role in the Syrian transition. Russia insisted that Assad’s removal from power must not be a precondition for peace in the country. The Foreign Ministry stated, “We firmly uphold the thesis that questions about Syria’s future must be decided by the Syrians themselves, without interference from outside or the imposition of prepared recipes for development.” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland asserted, “The Geneva document makes clear that it has to be a government that is agreed by mutual consent. Our view that that would preclude Assad’s participation hasn’t changed either.”