Delegations from both sides of the Syrian conflict have met face-to-face for the first time, at the UN headquarters in Geneva. Neither side actually spoke at the meeting, which lasted half an hour.
Instead, UN Mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi spoke to both sides. The delegations arrived and left the meeting room by separate doors.
Faisal al-Mikdad, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister said: “We are provided, by President Assad’s office, with instructions to contribute to the success of this meeting and to build the future of Syria in a way that will satisfy the Syrian people.”
The meeting is being hailed as a small but significant step forwards. The two delegations are expected to meet again later in the day.
Anas al-Abdah, Member of Opposition Delegation, said: “It was not easy for us to sit with the delegation that represents the killers in Damascus. It is not time to focus on small things, we need to think about the big picture and we have a real catastrophe happening in Syria.”
Hopes appear to be pinned on negotiating ways of supplying humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Syria, in particular for the population of Homs, which is currently cut off and besieged by government troops.