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September 21, 2017

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Deadlocked Syria talks resume with key disputes unresolved

GENEVA--Talks between Syria's warring sides entered their fifth day in Geneva on Wednesday with no signs of progress on a transfer of power or on providing desperately needed humanitarian relief.

Delegations from President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the opposition National Coalition sat down from around 11:00 am (1000 GMT), the U.N. said.

The two sides have been unable to even begin discussing political questions, let alone the core issue of creating a transitional governing body.

There has been disappointment over the failure to agree any humanitarian measures, especially for besieged residents in the central city of Homs, where U.N. trucks are waiting for access to deliver food and medical aid.

Tuesday's talks fell apart after the regime delegation urged participants to adopt a statement condemning Washington for supporting "terrorists" in Syria by backing rebel groups.

The opposition said it had presented its "vision" of the way forward but that the regime had refused to discuss it.

U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said he had decided to cancel Tuesday afternoon talks and reconvene the parties for "what I hope will be a better session" on Wednesday morning.

"Nobody is walking out, nobody is running away," Brahimi told reporters on Tuesday. "We have not achieved any breakthrough, but we are still at it, and this is good enough as far as I'm concerned."

A source in the opposition delegation told AFP the regime had been asked to say on Wednesday how it views the Geneva communique — the statement on forming a transitional government that was issued after talks among global powers here in 2012.

"Brahimi yesterday was very clear: the regime delegation must present its agenda and its vision of Geneva I," the source said.

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