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Syrian peace talks off to rocky start

By Jeffrey Rindskopf,

Peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland between the current Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and its opponents quickly turned into heated arguments on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reports that the two sides seemed almost irreconcilable only hours into the talks.

As the morning began, members of the opposing sides traded bitter speeches on their firm positions in the Syrian conflict, which has raged for nearly three years and killed more than 130,000 people.

"We did not expect instant breakthroughs. ... No one underestimated the difficulties," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "The Syrian people are looking desperately for relief from the nightmare in which they are trapped."

According to The LA Times, the representative of Assad's regime openly stated his distrust of his opposition, portraying them as traitors. His opposition in return insisted that Assad, who was not present for the talks, is a war criminal and must cede power.

Politicians around the world have expressed their hopes that the peace talks will end the war. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated the Obama administration's position that Assad must step down if there is to be peace.

Despite the lack of progress so far, the talks are set to continue on Friday in Geneva.

 

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