GENEVA (Reuters) – Thousands of people have fled a rebel-held town in Syria after it was bombed and shelled in an operation that has prompted fears of a major assault by ground troops, the United Nations said on Friday.
The fighting came as peace talks in Geneva neared the end of a second round with no sign of progress and with the government and opposition sides as far from agreement as ever, with both sticking to their known positions.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Warning that “failure” was staring him in the face, the Syria peace talks mediator said on Thursday that the United States and Russia had promised renewed support to keep their rival Syrian allies talking.
U.N. diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi met senior diplomats from Washington and Moscow in Geneva, hoping the co-sponsors of the three-week-old negotiating process could bury their own deep differences over Syria and prevail respectively on the opposition and government to move ahead and compromise.
GENEVA (Reuters) – A standoff between Russia and Western powers left their rival Syrian allies deadlocked in talks at Geneva on Thursday as fighting went on that has left tens of thousands under siege and hoping for relief from abroad.
Russia said it had presented a draft U.N. resolution on fighting “terrorism” in Syria and its own plan for improving aid access, throwing down a challenge to Western states in the Security Council which proposed another formulation that Moscow said would open the way for Western military intervention.
The United Nations on Wednesday accused the Vatican of systematically turning a blind eye to decades of sexual abuse of children by priests, and demanded it immediately turn over known or suspected offenders to civil justice.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Western countries on Wednesday denounced Vietnam’s jailing of bloggers and curbs on the Internet and called on its Communist government to respect basic freedoms of worship and expression.
Britain’s diplomat Ruth Tumer told the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council that her country regretted “recent trends to control the Internet” and, with diplomats from France and Australia, called for reducing the number of crimes punishable by death and for a moratorium on executions.
GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations demanded on Wednesday that the Vatican “immediately remove” all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers and turn them over to civil authorities, in an unprecedented and scathing report.
The U.N. watchdog for children’s rights said the Holy See should also hand over its archives on sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children so that culprits, as well as “those who concealed their crimes”, could be held accountable.
GENEVA (Reuters) – A contentious week-long first round of Syrian peace talks ended on Friday with no progress towards ending the civil war and the government delegation unable to say whether it will return for the next round in 10 days.
Darkening the atmosphere further, the United States and Russia clashed over the pace of Syria’s handover of chemical arms for destruction. Washington accused Damascus of foot-dragging that put the plan weeks behind schedule, and Moscow – President Bashar al-Assad’s big power ally – rejected this.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Some 2,500 Syrians trapped in the besieged Old City of Homs have become pawns in complex negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition, with aid agencies caught up in an ethical dilemma amid reports of starvation.
U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who ran week-long talks that ended without progress on Friday [ID:nL5N0L44J8], had hoped to broker a deal paving the way for delivering food and medical supplies to rebel-held Homs and the evacuation of women and children.
GENEVA (Reuters) – A first round of peace talks on Syria wraps up Friday with both sides in entrenched positions and the U.N. mediator expressing frustration that it had not even been possible to get agreement for an aid convoy to enter the besieged city of Homs.
After a week of talks at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, the opposing sides in Syria’s civil war were still stuck on the question of how to proceed.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Opposing sides in Syria’s civil war stood together to observe a minute of silence on Thursday in honor of the tens of thousands killed in the three-year conflict, a rare symbol of harmony a week into peace talks that have so far yielded no compromise.
The first talks between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and his foes have been mired in rhetoric since they began last Friday. The two sides took a first tentative step forward on Wednesday by agreeing to use the same 2012 roadmap as the basis of discussions to end the civil war, although they disagreed about how talks should proceed.