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France blames Syrian regime for peace talks collapse

UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimhas apologise for the collapse of the latest round of Syria peace talks in Geneva.
UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimhas apologise for the collapse of the latest round of Syria peace talks in Geneva. Reuters/Denis Balibouse

The French foreign minister has blamed the Syrian regime for blocking progress at talks aimed at ending the country’s three year civil war.

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"I blame the attitude of the Syrian regime, which blocked any progress on establishing a transition government and stepped up violence and acts of terror against the civilian population," Laurent Fabius said in a statement.

Earlier on Saturday, the United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, apologised to the Syrian people after the latest round of peace talks ended in Geneva without agreement.

Brahimi made a last-ditched attempt to break a stalemate between the Syrian opposition and Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The major sticking point was the Syrian government’s refusal to discuss a transitional governing body, a key part of the Geneva communiqué, a document crafted by world powers at a 2012 conference that was the basis of the latest round of talks in Switzerland.

The first round in January also ended without agreement. No date has yet been set for a third round of dialogue.

Syrian opposition spokesman Louay Safi told reporters that “a third round without talking about transition would be a waste of time."

"We want to be assured that the regime wants a political solution, not a delaying tactic," he said, adding: "We're not here to negotiate the Geneva communique but to implement it. Implementation starts with the transitional governing body," Safi said.

The regime insists that before politics the talks must resolve "terrorism" - its blanket term for a revolt it says is fuelled by foreign jihadists and money from mainly Sunni Gulf states such as Qatar and Arabia.

The opposition says its own forces are battling al-Qaeda-linked fighters, and accused the regime of terror tactics like raining "barrel bombs" onto opposition-held communities and deploying fighters from the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah.

More than 136,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.

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