UN Declares Syria Talks ‘Paused,’ But Both Sides Argue They Never Started

US Blames Russia for Lack of Progress

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by Jason Ditz

UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura today declared a “pause” of the Geneva-based Syrian peace talks, saying both sides need to do more before there can be a serious effort. Mistura added he didn’t want talks just for the sake of talks.

The talks cap a week and a half process in which talks were initially scheduled for last Monday, invites were sent out Tuesday, rebels declined the invitation Wednesday and then showed up over the weekend insisting they weren’t officially “at” the talks, and both sides disputing assessments from earlier this week that the talks had “formally begun.” Indeed, to this point neither side was willing to concede that talks ever happened at all.

The effort was long delayed over arguments among nations over who would be allowed to attend, with Turkey threatening to boycott the talks if any Kurds were allowed in. The Kurds showed up over the weekend too, but were told to leave.

The US, for its part, insists the pause is wholly Russia’s fault with a faction of them continuing airstrikes in Syria during the talks, even though there was never a ceasefire agreed to beforehand and US warplanes too continued airstrikes throughout the period.

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