As a week of peace talks in Geneva drew to a close on Friday, the opposing sides in Syria’s civil war were still stuck on the question of how to proceed.
With both parties in entrenched positions, Bashar al-Assad’s government has not yet confirmed its attendance at further talks expected to take place on February 10.
Despite the slow progress, UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is slightly more optimistic than he was earlier in the week.
“Progress is very slow indeed,” he said. “The gaps between the sides remain wide; there is no use pretending otherwise. Nevertheless, during our discussions, I observed a little bit of common ground – perhaps more than the two sides realise or recognise.”
In a deal brokered by the US and Russia last year, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons.
The plan is currently six to eight weeks behind schedule, with a Danish ship taking away the first consignment of toxic chemicals just last week.
Despite the delay, Russia has said June 30 is still a viable deadline by which to destroy al-Assad’s arsenal of toxic agents.