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Syrian Peace Talks Stall Again Over Assad's Role In Political Transition

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

An eighth round of Syrian peace talks ended on December 14 in Geneva without progress in what the United Nations mediator called a "big missed opportunity."

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said neither side actually "sabotaged" the two-week talks.

But he placed most of the blame for failure on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which he said demanded that opposition groups accept the possibility of a role for Assad during a political transition in the country -- the same issue that has blocked progress in previous negotiations.

De Mistura said he was unable to get the two sides to even talk to each other directly.

It was a "big missed opportunity," he said, coming at a time when the government, its ally Russia, and other major players have indicated they are ready to wrap up military operations in the nearly seven year long civil war.

De Mistura said he would brief the UN Security Council on the talks next week.

Chief opposition negotiator Nasr Hariri said the peace process was in "great danger" and said world powers must put more pressure on Assad to negotiate or the stalemate would continue.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, AFP, and Reuters