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Transcript of press conference by Joint Special Representative for Syria (JSRS) Lakhdar Brahimi, Geneva, 28 January 2014
28 January 2014

(Near verbatim transcript)

JSRS : Good evening to you. I do apologise for being late. I am sure you have heard already that today we have met only in the morning but not in the afternoon, and I am sure you have heard all sorts of explanations. And I am sure you are going to ask me all questions, lots of questions about that, no matter what I say, so I won’t say much. You know, I think I will repeat again that these are not easy negotiations and they haven’t been easy today, they haven’t been easy these past days and they will probably not be easy in the coming few days. But, I am glad that you have been told by representatives of the two sides that they intend to stay and continue these discussions until Friday, as originally planned. So nobody is walking out. Nobody is running away. I have suggested to them, and they have agreed, that we don’t meet this afternoon and that we all prepare ourselves for what I hope will be a better session tomorrow morning. The Opposition must have told you, I am sure, that they presented their view, their vision of how to implement the communiqué of the 30th of June. The Government has not yet done so, but we have discussed quite a number of things. So, you know, we have not achieved any breakthrough, but we are still at it, and this is good enough as far as I’m concerned. So, I will take your questions.

Q. : (unofficial translation from Arabic) There is news from Reuters that the American Congress voted a while ago on providing weapons to the Syrian Opposition and sending weapons and aid to the Syrian Opposition, the Free Army on the ground. Did you receive this information and did it come up in the discussions, especially as the delegation of the Regime rejects this, that there are peace talks while the provision of weapons is ongoing.

JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) We read this information in the newspapers and according to what I understood, this is not an official statement from the United States’ Government. In truth, the Government delegation did talk about this at length, objecting strongly to the news if it is correct. They said it contradicted what was happening here, by a State which was one of the two States that took the initiative to call for this conference. That is true.

Q. : (unofficial translation from Arabic) What were the reasons behind the cancellation of the meeting, and which one of the parties was the main reason for this cancellation ? What came in the vision of the Opposition and what are the main points that came in this vision ?

JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) As for the paper of the Opposition, it has not been distributed yet. They have talked about it only, therefore I prefer not to tell you about the points in it, although I am sure that they have already told you or that they will tell you in detail. As for the reason, there is no reason, there is no party which is to blame for this. I decided to cancel it without any request or any pressure from any of the parties.

Q. : Mr. Brahimi, you said that at some point in time both delegations would make opening statements. I guess that was for Monday. Could you summarise or paraphrase what they said?

JSRS : Difficult. No, they haven’t. Rather, the Opposition made, as I said just a moment ago, a presentation on how they think the Geneva Communiqué can be implemented. The Government has not done so.

Q. : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Mr. Brahimi, concerning the static situation of the negotiations that we have been witnessing in the past few days, can we say that the United States and Russia did not play the necessary role to have an effect on the negotiations and to push them forward? The same can be said about the other countries involved in the Syrian crisis. Are you still convinced that the presence of Iran in these negotiations would be part of the solution and not part of the problem? Thank you.

JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Concerning your first question, I cannot say that. In truth, Russia and the United States have been working with us in the framework of the tripartite meetings, between the United Nations, Russia and the United States, and I believe that they are serious and that they want these efforts to succeed. That is undoubtedly true. As for Iran, we always said that its presence would be good and I think that we will seek to speak with Iran and cooperate with Iran in the future so that it carries out its role and responsibilities as an important country in the region.

Q. : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, in the tripartite talks, Russia and the United States have been seeking to make the conference a success. As for what was said today about the role of the United States in providing weapons to the groups on the ground, what role will the United States play to make the conference a success, and what about the terrorism issue please?

JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) I repeat that the United States, the people whom we meet, the Secretary of State and Ms Wendy Sherman, they are really seeking to end this war and make the conference a success. As for their position concerning what is the solution, they do not hide anything from you, they say their opinion clearly and you know that there is no complete agreement between them and Russia. As for the news that came today, I answered that; we heard but for the time being it is not an issue, the Government delegation talked about this at length and condemned this very strongly. As for terrorism, the talks in the room included this issue and I have no doubt that there will be further talks on it before the next three days end.

Q. : Mr. Brahimi, I want to ask you about the situation in Homs regarding the convoy. This is a key test of your confidence-building measures which were supposed to launch this process. As you know, failing to get food or medicine into this area or failing to let it in would be a breach of international law. So, if there is no agreement at the table, at your table, do you think that it would be appropriate, would you like to see the UN Security Council unite behind a resolution to force the issue? Because otherwise your talks will be left in limbo without resolution on this.

JSRS : You know, my talks don’t need the Security Council to be in limbo. Yes, the convoy is ready and still waiting to enter. The authorization has not been given yet. We haven’t given up on that. I’m afraid that’s all I can say for the moment.

Q. : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Mr. Brahimi, I just want to understand the issue, in continuation of the issue of Homs. Today is it really related to the issue of the three villages in Aleppo? The Opposition also said today that it could help in lifting the siege on them, and if the Coalition delegation agrees to work on this issue, will it really be able to influence the armed men, contact them? Is there any news on this issue and is it all related?

JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Without a doubt it is all related, meaning that I believe that at least the people present in the room all agree that food and medicine must be delivered to the surrounded areas. It is not because of international law, it is because of humanitarian law, because of behaviour. There is a history in our region and in your country specifically, there is complete agreement that this issue has to be resolved and that every person in Syria in need of aid of any kind must be reached. As for how this can be achieved, we hope that step by step we will achieve it.

Thank you.