Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem arrives for the start of a meeting at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.  Read more: http://www.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem arrives for the start of a meeting at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. Read more: http://www.
News   /   Syrian Crisis

Syrian foreign minister "Walid al-Moallem" said  today Government delegation had rejected a U.S request for direct talks unless Secretary of State "John Kerry" apologised for his remarks at the Geneva-2 talks.

"The Americans asked us to negotiate directly with them in Montreux", Walid al-Moallem told Syrian state media on the plane home from 10 days of peace talks in the Swiss cities of Montreux and Geneva.

"But we refused to do so before Secretary of State "John Kerry" apologised for what he said at the conference" , al-Moallem added, in remarks carried by state news agency SANA.

Syrian government and opposition began the so-called Geneva-2 talks on January 22, with the participation of dozens of nations, including Russia, which backs the regime, and the United States, which supports the opposition.

In his opening remarks at the conference, Kerry said Syria's President Bashar al-Assad "will not be part" of any transitional government.

Kerry said "there is no way, not possible in the imagination, that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain legitimacy to govern".

Al-Moallem also dismissed the "coalition of the so-called 'opposition'" in his comments today.

SANA quoted him saying "If they do not abandon their illusions, they will get a rude shock because we are a country of institutions and a constitution and we have a president of the republic".

The Government and opposition were unable to bridge the vast gulf between them during 10 days of talks, making no progress on ceasefires, humanitarian corridors or the question of a transitional government.

The Government sought to focus the discussions on "terrorism.

Al-Moallem said it was "a stain" on the opposition that they refused to sign a declaration condemning "terrorism" in the country.

A second round of talks has been tabled for February 10, with the opposition already committed to attending.

But al-Moallem repeated earlier assertions that his team would await guidance from Damascus before announcing whether it would participate.

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