The second round of peace talks in Geneva between Syrian rebels and the regime of Bashar al-Assad began contentiously this week, as each side accused the other of stifling humanitarian aid to the country.
The Geneva II talks focused on ending violence, setting up a transitional government and planning for national institutions and reconciliation. A letter delivered to both sides of the weekend from mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said:
Will the two sides ... contribute even at a minimum, toward lessening the manifestations of violence, stopping the use of certain weapons and reaching ceasefires in some areas, even for a short period?
The letter also stated:
the future of this political process and the possibility of its success require a clear declaration from the outset that the two parties have the full and strong political will to deal with these two issues, with all that they require – courage, persistance and tenacity and openness to reach successful solutions to all the issues, no matter how complicated and thorny.
The previous round of talks focused on Homs, just one of the more than 40 cities that has been cut off from humanitarian aid by the violence. A three-day ceasefire to evacuate civilians from the city over the weekend rescued about 450 people.
Tensions between the two groups are running high, with the opposition condemning Assad's force's use of "barrel bombs" and Assad's men characterizing the opposition as terrorists. Both sides met with Brahimi separately on Monday, rather than facing each other directly. A similar setup is expected for Tuesday.