U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi gestures during a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi gestures during a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
News   /   Syrian Crisis

The U.N mediator trying to broker peace after three years of crisis in Syria said the agreement by the antagonists to face each other at peace talks for the first time Saturday is an accomplishment to be measured in "half-steps".

Lakhdar Brahimi also said the painstakingly choreographed conference would continue Sunday, focusing on humanitarian aid - the one topic the Syrian government and the opposition could agree to discuss.

"We haven't achieved much, but we are continuing", Brahimi said after about three hours acting as a buffer between the two sides ", adding "the situation is very difficult and very, very complicated, and we are moving not in steps, but half-steps".

Sitting face to face at a U-shaped table and separated by Brahimi, Syrian government delegation and the opposition coalition avoided directly touching on the  crisis dividing them.

Their movements choreographed, they entered by separate doors and said they would speak only to Brahimi, and not to each other.

He said "one is on the left and one on right and they face one another and they talk to each other - through me, to one another" , adding "this is what happens in civilized discussions".

Louay Safi, of the coalition, described the talks as "consultations - it's not negotiations".

Diplomats have said even getting them to the same table can be considered an accomplishment three years into the crisis .

First on the agenda was a cease-fire in the city of Homs, Syria's third-largest city.

Brahimi said there was no firm agreement - local officials also needed to be involved - but he hoped for a delivery to Homs by Monday.

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