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Effort to find common ground still hasn't borne fruit

Sunday - 1/26/2014, 10:30am  ET

GENEVA (AP) -- Syrians on opposite sides of their country's civil war tried again today to find common ground, but a morning session focusing on the release of prisoners and an aid convoy to a besieged central city failed to produce an agreement.

The delegation for President Bashar Assad complained that the talks are avoiding the main issues and questioned their usefulness, while the opposition said the government negotiating team wanted to "lecture" instead of make decisions.

The U.N. mediator now plans to hold separate meetings with the two sides to try to resolve differences.

The mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi (LAHK'-dar bra-HEE'-mee), says the thorniest topic -- a possible transitional government -- will not come up until tomorrow, at the earliest.

The Western-backed opposition, made up largely of exiled Syrians, says Assad has lost legitimacy and can no longer lead the country after unleashing the military on largely peaceful protests nearly three years ago. The government says the rebellion is rife with terrorists and that Assad is the only person able to end the fighting that has killed 130,000 people.

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