Solution eludes as Syria negotiations in Geneva end without making headway

GENEVA: Syrian government negotiator Bashar al Jaafari accused Western countries and Saudi Arabia of sabotage and blackmail at the end of a round of UN-led peace talks in Geneva on Thursday, and said Damascus did not want to see the political process fail.
“Nobody can exert pressure on us,” Al Jaafari told reporters after a session with UN mediator Staffan de Mistura, who he said had made an error by commenting in an interview on Russia’s influence, which could “derail his mandate”.
The UN mediator at the talks has “undermined” his position by appealing to Moscow to convince Damascus to hold new elections, Bashar al Jaafari said.
Bashar al Jaafari harshly criticised De Mistura for comments made to Swiss television on Wednesday calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “have the courage” to convince his Syrian counterpart to allow new polls.
“His statement undermined his mandate as a facilitator of the talks, which will affect the entire Geneva process,” he told reporters as the eighth round of negotiations concluded with no sign of progress.
— Reuters/AFP